Donald Trump said Tuesday that his government may need to create a “space force” after suggesting that space is now a “war-fighting domain.”
Trump floated the idea while speaking to a group of U.S. Marines in San Diego on Tuesday.
“My new national strategy for space recognizes that space is a war-fighting domain,” Trump casually mentioned. “Just like the land, air and sea.”
“We may even have a space force — develop another one — space force. We have the air force, we’ll have the space force. We have the army, the navy.”
Trump said he recently came up with the idea jokingly but then fell in love with it.
“You know, I was saying it the other day because we are doing a tremendous amount of work in space,” he told the group of U.S. Marines. “We’ll call it the space force and I was not really serious and then I said, ‘What a great idea. Maybe we’ll have to do that.’”
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Trump’s own defence secretary and air force secretary argued vociferously against it when members of Congress pushed it last year, Sean O’Keefe, who was both NASA administrator and navy secretary under president George W. Bush, told the Associated Press.
While Trump was almost jokingly floating the idea, there has always been a military aspect to the space race.
After the Soviets launched Sputnik, the Americans immediately countered with two space programs, a civilian one that became NASA, and a military one. NASA is much more public, but the military program is just as big.
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Last week, Trump spoke of a special future U.S. mission to Mars.
“We’ll be sending something beautiful to Mars in the near future and we’re going to areas that nobody thought possible at least this quickly,” he explained.
Trump released his budget request in mid-February in which his administration sought to end NASA funding for the International Space Station by 2025. The hope is that private funding will step into the chasm created by the cut in government finding.
A lack of funding for NASA in that budget request would seem contrary to the creation of the “space force.”
*With files from The Associated Press