US President Donald Trump has ordered the Pentagon to begin establishing a Space Force as the sixth branch of the US military. Creators of Star Wars, Star Trek and Starship Troopers memes rejoiced.
“There’s no place like space,” Trump said on Monday, addressing the National Space Council in Washington. He announced a number of initiatives, including a push to establish a “permanent presence” on the Moon, with an eye to a manned Mars mission. But the biggest one was the creation of a new military branch, to operate in what the president termed “forbidden skies.”
Trump declared that America was “first in flight, first to the Moon,”and “will always be first in space.”
He was unclear on whether that would make the first artificial satellite (Sputnik), the first animal to orbit the Earth (Laika), the first man in orbit (Yuri Gagarin), the first man to walk in space (Alexey Leonov) and the first woman in orbit (Valentina Tereshkova), somehow, retroactively American.
“It is not enough to have American presence in space. We must have American dominance in space,” Trump declared, calling it a matter of national security. To that end, he has directed General Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, to begin preparations for making the Space Force a “separate but equal” branch of the US military, alongside the Army, Air Force, Navy, Marines, and Coast Guard.
Some critics couldn’t resist jumping on that phrase, which has unfortunate connotations in the US, having been associated with decades of justifying racial segregation.