President Donald Trump has ordered the US military to establish a “space force” as the sixth branch of its armed forces to ensure “American dominance” in space amidst competition from Russia and China.
Details of what a new space force would look like and what it would do were not immediately clear. But Trump said it would be “separate but equal” to the Air Force.
The other US military branches are the Army, Navy, Coast Guard and Marine Corps.
Addressing the members of the National Space Council at the White House, Trump, also the commander-in-chief of the military, said the whole world is “looking up” to the US and the country is being respected again.
The president said he has directed the Pentagon to start a process for creating a “Space Force”.
“I’m hereby directing the Department of Defence and Pentagon to immediately begin the process necessary to establish a space force as the sixth branch of the armed forces. That’s a big statement,” Trump said.
He also said it would be unacceptable to let either China or Russia lead in space, and he would be directing federal agencies to “implement a state-of-the-art framework for space traffic management”.
However, the US Congresswould need to pass a law authorising the Trump administration to create any new branch of the military, media reports said.
“When it comes to defending America, it is not enough to merely have an American presence in space. We must have American dominance in space, he said in his address to the advisory body led by Vice President Mike Pence.
Trump said that the US will have the Air Force and the Space Force, separate but equal.
“It is going to be something so important…But that’s the importance that we give it. We’re going to have the Space Force,” he said.
Trump said the American economy has become a “strong economy” under his leadership and the foreign policy that he has adopted after coming to power.
“The whole world is looking up to the US, and the US is respected again. It was a period of time, we were not so respected, not so long ago. The US is respected again,” he said.
“This is an incredible time for our country. I would say that our economy and many of you know that very well, is doing better than it ever has done,” he said, adding that the employment numbers are the best- recorded history.
He also promised that the US would “return Americans to the Moon” and would eventually send people to Mars.
“We will establish a long-term presence, expand our economy, and build the foundation for the eventual mission to Mars, which is actually going to happen very quickly,” he said.
“Today we’re taking one more step to unleash the power of American ingenuity,” he said as he signed a new directive to federal departments and agencies.
They will work together with American industry to implement a state-of-the-art framework for space traffic management, he said.