On Tuesday morning, Vice President Mike Pence laid out the Trump administration’s plans to implement the Space Force as the sixth branch of the military.
The VP announced that he is hosting a meeting with the National Space Council with the intention to have a full legislative plan submitted to the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) by December 1 of this year.
According to a draft of the policy memo obtained by SpaceNews, the report says it is “imperative that the United States adapt its organization, policies, doctrine and capabilities to protect our interests” in space. Defense Department projections estimate that the Space Force will cost $13 billion over 5 years.
.@VP Pence just kicked off the 4th meeting of the National Space Council at @NWC_NDU. “The #SpaceForce is an idea whose time has come,” he said.
Today we are discussing the implementation of @POTUS’ vision for a new branch of the Armed Forces. @StateAVC pic.twitter.com/im19qNbKmj
— U/S of State Andrea Thompson (@UnderSecT) October 23, 2018
VP Pence also discussed the coming Space Force in a Washington Post forum Tuesday. He explained that President Trump has long had an interest in reinvigorating the United States’ commitment to defending our assets and technologies in space and pursuing more aggressive policies when it comes to space exploration and bolstering America’s overall space apparatus.
— Alyssa Farah (@VPPressSec) October 23, 2018
Pence explained that President Trump saw it as “intolerable” that the U.S. is now relying on Russian launch vehicles to send our astronauts into space.
“The president saw all of that as intolerable … that we really lost a vision for leading mankind into the outer reaches of space,” Pence explained, adding that “it is absolutely essential that America remain as dominant in space from a national security perspective as we are on the earth.”
“The purpose of the Space Force will be to secure our vital national interests in space,” Pence stated.
The Washington Post interviewer then asked the vice president if that statement means the U.S. intends to add weapons to space. Notably, the Outer Space Treaty — which the United States is a party to — prohibits signatories from placing weapons of mass destruction in orbit or on any celestial body (such as the moon). However, it is understood that conventional weapons are still allowable.
At #transformers @postlive, @VP Mike Pence says other nations are developing anti-sat capabilities including "satellites that are able to move in proximity to other satellites." Adds Outer Space Treaty gives "flexibility" on conventional weapons in space, no need to amend it yet
— Tom Risen (@TomRisen) October 23, 2018
“We’re going to protect American interests in space,” Pence responded. “To understand American defense today is to understand the inner relationship between our satellite technology and our aircraft, our ships at sea, our submarines, our warfighters on the ground.”
“The first order of business is ensuring the infrastructure of our satellite technology is protected,” Pence explained, adding that Chinese and Russian anti-satellite weapons continue to proliferate.