Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (TNS)
Concerned that the satellites Americans and our military depend on are in jeopardy, the top Republican and top Democrat on the House Subcommittee on Strategic Forces are pushing a proposal to create a new branch of the armed services: the United States Space Corps.
In a Space News op-ed, Reps. Mike Rogers, R-Ala., and Jim Cooper, D-Tenn., said space is not getting enough military attention. Americans communicate through satellites and navigate by them. China has proved that it can destroy a satellite by taking out one of its own. Were an enemy to attack U.S. satellites, it “would crush our economy and paralyze our military.”
Yet the Air Force prioritizes air over space financially, they argued. Todd Harrison of the Center for Strategic and International Studies said most military communications satellites are vulnerable to jamming. Rogers said the Air Force bureaucracy slows the launching of new equipment.
The proposal, which already has passed the House of Representatives as part of defense authorization, would put the Space Corps under the Air Force, much as the Marines are under the Navy. It faces an uphill battle.
The secretary of the Air Force said it would make military bureaucracy more complex at a time when “we are trying to simplify it.”
But sometimes, new bureaucracy is worth building. We rely on satellites, so they must be protected.
The Space Corps’ interest would be the security of U.S. interests in space, including the ability to win wars there. That means it would need to promote systems, human and technological, for achieving victory in orbit, and perhaps someday beyond.
That’s important for the reasons Congressmen Rogers and Cooper lay out: we rely on satellites, so we must protect them.
But it’s important for another reason, too. Military development can lead to technological progress. The GPS system was created for the military. The Internet was born from Defense Department research. And then there’s the Jeep. It’s too soon to tell what technologies a Space Corps might foster. But it’s not too soon to look forward to seeing how they’ll contribute to civilian life.
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