Reality Meets Science Fiction
Here’s the thing that most people don’t realize: satellites are extremely important. You know, the big bulky gadgets in the sky that tell us everything we never knew we needed. From wireless communications to your trusty GPS, satellites play a crucial role in our everyday lives, and odds are you’ve never really thought about them until now. But other people have, and the many abilities of satellites are actually turning them into military targets.
Sounds scary. What kind of protection do we have up in space?
This would be the Air Force Space Command: a part of the Air Force that was created in 1982 to oversee any threats in space.
Wait a minute, what kinds of threats?
Anything attacking American satellites and spacecrafts. Other governments, enemies, curious extraterrestrials, magic space fairies… you get the gist.
What’s changed since then?
As of 2018, President Trump decided that what we need is a sixth military branch, known as “Space Force” to further protect US interests in space. Shockingly, this idea was not popular with Congress. Many argued Space Force was problematic because Trump would need congressional approval to make it happen (you know, because of the whole whole checks and balances thing). So instead, to save time and garner a little more support, the idea behind Space Force shifted from an individual military branch to something that would be overseen by the Air Force. Nevertheless, it still brought people’s attention back to space defense.
So what’s the difference between the Air Force Space Command and the Space Force?
Basically, the Air Force Space Command enables the U.S. to have a presence in space, while the Space Force would allow the U.S. to dominate space. According to space.com, the Space Force, “… would add more than just a competitive presence in space or an additional focus on the protection of U.S. space assets.” Forget taking over the world, this would put the US on a whole different playing field in terms of power.
Specifically, Space Force’s end goal is to oversee and organize space operations, accelerate technical advances, and find more effective ways to defend U.S. assets in space. This would include those satellites we mentioned earlier; the ones that American forces rely on for navigation, communications and surveillance.
Why create a Space Force now?
The move comes amid growing concerns that China and Russia are developing anti-satellite weapons. AKA things that could disrupt, disable or even destroy U.S. satellites.
How will this affect people?
Not to sound too sci-fi, but this move could definitely end up militarizing space. In fact, experts say moving forward with a Space Force has the potential to “… [create] an incentive for nations to build space weapons that increase the likelihood of conflict.” Real-life Star Wars here we come.
Get ready for blast off, because this decision could change space as we know it.