This week, President Donald Trump threatened to escalate the US-China trade war with yet another round of tariffs on an additional $200billion worth of Chinese goods. He waded into Germany’s immigration debate, whilst facing a major backlash over his latest immigration tactics, which involve separating children from their families at the Mexican border. Amid the political strife, and accusations from the UN’s human rights chief, however, Trump’s mind is elsewhere – space.
Ahead of his meeting with the National Space Council on Monday, Trump critiqued Angela Markel’s coalition prospects before moving swiftly on to his next venture. Not content with America’s on-land military action, Trump maintained that space was the country’s next frontier. It’s not enough to simply have American presence in space, he stated, “we must have American domination in space”. How does the US President hope to achieve this? By creating the world’s first space force.
Trump told attendees that he would instruct the military and the Pentagon to begin the formation of the sixth branch of the military immediately. The space force would function as a distinct entity to the air force, yet share the same prestige.
What would the space force do? According to Trump, its main objective would be to ensure that other countries – especially China and Russia – don’t beat America to space domination. The space force would be tasked with guaranteeing that Americans do more than leave a flag and footprints on the moon and establish the US’ long-term presence in space. They would also, importantly, protect the US’ chances in the race to put humans on Mars. Although, Trump later added that if the US and its space force didn’t win the race to Mars, they would take full credit for whoever did.
Last year, Donald Trump signed a policy directive which instructed NASA to send astronauts back to the moon. Following these successful missions, the policy dictated that NASA would embark on their trips to ‘Mars and beyond’.
This is not the first time the space force has been proposed. In 2000, former US defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld suggested the idea but was largely ignored.
Despite the many Star Trek and Star Wars references circulating in the wake of Trump’s announcement, the president is developing a reputation for implementing the unlikely. As space tourism is expected to take off as soon as 2050, the space force may become less of a sci-fi-esque idea in the coming years.
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