Did Trump actually suggest creating a militarised ‘space force’?

14 Mar 2018

Image: Anton Chernigovskii/Shutterstock

In a speech to servicepeople at a US Marines airbase, Donald Trump appeared to suggest the creation of a militarised force that would fight in space.

Now more than a year in office, US president Donald Trump appeared to indicate that his plans to bolster the country’s military were no longer going to be limited to Earth.

In a speech to members of the US Marine Corps at the Miramar Air Station in California, Trump said that he had come up with the idea when discussing the country’s future ambitions in national and commercial space activities, throwing in the idea of a ‘space force’ similar in concept to the US Air Force.

But, after thinking about it for a while longer, he came to the conclusion that it might be a good idea, according to CNBC.

“Space is a war-fighting domain, just like the land, air and sea,” Trump said. “We may even have a space force, develop another one, space force. We have the air force, we’ll have the space force.

“So, think of that, space force,” he continued, “because we are spending a lot and we have a lot of private money coming in, tremendous.

“From the very beginning, many of our astronauts have been soldiers and airmen, coastguard men and marines. And our service members will be vital to ensuring America continues to lead the way into the stars.”

Starship troopers

The US president has made flippant statements in the past and there has been no official documentation or statement actually confirming plans to create a so-called space force. However, members of the government had suggested in June last year that the air force should be split in two: one for Earth, another for space activities.

The ‘Space Corps’, as it would be called, did not make it into the planned national defence authorisation bill put forward in November, but some aspects of the legislation haven’t completely closed the door for its inclusion in the future.

One of those lawmakers involved in the proposal, Republican Mike Rogers, said after its initial failure: “This is just the first step. We will not allow the US national security space enterprise to continue to drift toward a space Pearl Harbour.”

Trump’s idea might not seem as far-fetched as you might think, as news has circulated suggesting that Russia and China are already developing weapons for space that could take down satellites from enemy nations.

Under the 1966 Outer Space Treaty, which defines much of what could be called ‘space law’, countries are not allowed to place weapons of mass destruction in orbit, but it does not ban the placement of regular weaponry.

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic