Space Force Looks to Stay Light-Years Ahead

By C. Todd Lopez

WASHINGTON (March 20, 2019) -- The recently announced U.S Space Force won't be deploying space cadets on bug hunts any time soon -- at least it's not in the plans for now.

Instead, its primary role will be to maintain and increase the gap between existing U.S. space capabilities and those of America's nearest competitors.

Acting Defense Secretary Patrick M. Shanahan discussed the now-blossoming U.S. Space Force as well as other Defense Department developments to grow America's dominance in the final frontier.

Space Force will be an "advocate" for space, Shanahan said, and will fall under the Air Force in the same way the Marine Corps falls under the Navy Department. But Space Force won't be as big as the Navy, the Air Force, or the Marine Corps. It'll be less than 20,000 strong, and have a budget matching that of U.S. Special Operations Command.

DOD efforts to maintain an edge in space also involve standing up a space-focused combatant command -- for the second time. The first stood up in 1985 and shuttered in 2002. U.S. Space Command will "change the mission of space from a support function to a leading role," Shanahan said.

Delivering research, space-age gear and equipment to U.S. Space Force and U.S. Space Command will be the Space Development Agency. That's the third prong of the DOD's rocket-like drive into space. The Space Development Agency will have work to do on the day it opens its doors, including finding ways to track and warn against hypersonic weapons, and discovering an alternative to GPS.

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