It sounds a little bit like we’re back in the Cold War and President Reagan is still pushing his Star Wars Initiative. Last week, the House Armed Services Committee voted 60 to 1 in favor of creating a new military branch–the United States Space Corps. This new military branch would be the first since the Air Force formed in 1947.
The new branches purpose? "Providing combat-ready space forces that enable the commanders of the combatant commands to fight and win wars,” says the bill. This would functionally mean taking functions currently handled by the Air Force. Space Corps would still be under the Air Force in the same way that the Marine Corps is a part of the Navy.
Representative Mike Rogers, R-Alabama, says the plan is an important way to keep ahead of the Russians and the Chinese.
“The Russians and Chinese have realized that if they can take our eyes and ears out, which is what our satellites are, they might actually be able to compete or have an advantage against us," he told NPR last month.
But Air Force leadership aren’t happy. Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson calls it a waste of money. “If I had more money,” Wilson said, “I would put it into lethality, not bureaucracy.”
However, others don’t agree. They think the Air Force’s focus on terrestrial flight detracts funding and attention from space. People on Twitter are also excited.
In an article for The Space Review, Mike Snead, president and founder of the Spacefaring Institute, argues for the corps. “Extension of active US military capabilities into Earth-space is essential to provide the ability to project American power for our nation’s security,” writes Snead. “It’s time for the United States to have a permanent human military presence in Earth-space—starting with a US Space Corps, followed soon by a US Space Guard and leading to a US Space Force.”
Snead also believes the Air Force has mismanaged the space program. He writes, “While once supreme in spacefaring capabilities, poor policy choices, inadequate budgets, and insufficient spacefaring enlightenment have created a quarter-century of decline in operational spacefaring capabilities.” He additionally points to a quotation from New Gingrich, who said the Air Force's “parochialism” and NASA’s “bureaucracy” have put American space travel twenty-five year behind where he believes it should be.
It all sounds a little bit science fiction to me, but I can also see why it's needed. What do you think?