Sorry, President Trump: Scientist Says Space Force Makes Us Less Safe

Sorry, President Trump: Scientist Says Space Force Makes Us Less Safe

David Axe

Security,

The administration of Pres. Donald Trump championed the separate space service. The president’s reelection campaign even wrongly claimed that a space force would help astronauts reach Mars. In fact, space exploration is NASA’s responsibility. But not everyone is a fan of the space service. Among the critics is Laura Grego, a physicist and senior scientist in the Global Security Program at the Union of Concerned Scientists in Massachusetts.

U.S. lawmakers have given the U.S. Air Force the nod to establish a new, separate internal service for space operations. The 2020 defense budget, which Congress signed into law in early December 2019, authorized so-called “space force.”

The space force will be part of the Department of the Air Force in the same way that the U.S. Marine Corps is part of the Department of the Navy.

The new service will assume oversight of the roughly 38,000 space operators in the Air Force. The Navy and Army will retain control of their own space personnel and spacecraft.

The administration of Pres. Donald Trump championed the separate space service. The president’s reelection campaign even wrongly claimed that a space force would help astronauts reach Mars. In fact, space exploration is NASA’s responsibility.

But not everyone is a fan of the space service. Among the critics is Laura Grego, a physicist and senior scientist in the Global Security Program at the Union of Concerned Scientists in Massachusetts.

“At best a space force is a distraction from what is necessary to ensure space security in the face of rapid technological and geopolitical changes,” Grego wrote. “At worst, it would prompt a space arms race that would threaten U.S. military and civilian satellites, not protect them. Diplomacy, not bureaucratic reorganization is urgently needed.”

The Pentagon insists that keeping space predictable and safe is the core purpose of whatever reorganization they do. To be sure, that mission is important and stabilizing, but it doesn’t need a new military service. Creating a new military service focused on space will create bureaucratic incentives to hype the space weapons threat and build new weapons.

Pentagon officials emphasize that Russia and China are developing anti-satellite technology, but they leave out the fact that the United States is far ahead in sophistication as well as capacity of such technology.

Grego apparently is referring to so-called “inspection satellites,” small spacecraft that can maneuver close to other satellites and inspect, modify or even destroy them.

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