In a move that is being compared to the 1947 law that created the Department of Defense, the House Armed Services Committee has voted as part of the 2017 Defense Authorization Bill to create the United States Space Corps. By 2019, the United States Air Force will spin off all of its space warfighting assets to the new branch of the service. The Air Force is not happy with the move.

Why create the Space Corps?

The idea of a separate service branch that conducts war fighting in space has been mulled by politicians and policy experts for a number of years. The idea is that war fighting in space, which involves reconnaissance, GPS, and communication satellites, the protection of space assets, the attack on an enemy’s space assets, and space-based missile defense needs a separate service branch that can focus on those functions.

The Air Force handles space warfighting currently, but also has a number of other duties and, in the judgment of some in Congress, is not able to focus properly on space.

The idea of splitting a service branch into two is not new. The 1947 law, among other things, spun off the United States Army Air Force into a separate Air Force service branch. Despite some opposition from the Army, the arrangement has worked well ever since.

Some opposition

The United States Air Force has expressed some opposition to creating the United States Space Corps. Even though the Space Corps would still be subordinate to the Air Force, much as the Marines are subordinated to the Navy, the Air Force is loath to lose some of its functions to a new branch. The excuse is that being forced to undergo a reorganization change will slow down some other, much-needed initiatives to recover from the budget cuts of the Obama-era and modernizing weapons systems.

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Let’s face it, what they’re really doing is creating Star Fleet

The notion that the Space Corps will eventually morph into Star Trek’s Star Fleet is a beguiling one. But that is not likely to happen for quite some time, many decades at the earliest. Neither the new Space Corps is likely to deploy personnel to space for quite a while. Besides, the Outer Space Treaty contains severe restrictions on the deployment of military assets in space.

On the other hand, as people start to live off the planet, on lunar bases, Mars colonies, and asteroid mining facilities, they are going to need military protection. By then, the role of the Space Corps is likely to expand.