The U.S. will be well on its way to having six branches of the military when the U.S. Space Force's Space Command officially launches August 29. The new branch will be in charge of defense operations beyond Earth's atmosphere.
"The United States Space Force will ensure that our nation is prepared to defend our people, defend our interests, and to defend our values," Vice President Mike Pence announced at a meeting of the newly-formed National Space Council Tuesday. The vice president called space a "war-fighting domain."
"Space is becoming more important; there's a lot of critical national infrastructure we need to protect," Space Angels CEO Chad Anderson, who was at the meeting and whose company funds new space ventures, told Cheddar.
President Trump made "Space Force" official in February when he signed a directive ordering the Pentagon to establish the group. The new branch still needs congressional funding, though Pence said the approval will be received soon.
The U.S. Space Force is in good company. Last month, French President Emmanuel Macron announced the creation of a French space force command. The Trump administration has also pointed to China and Russia as reasons for encouraging the creation of the military branch.
Critics say the Air Force, which has been in charge of the Air Force Space Command since it was established in 1982, is already performing this function.
But proponents say there needs to be a separate branch of the military devoted solely to protecting U.S. assets in space and focusing on new research.
"It's been sort of an afterthought for the Air Force," Anderson said. "It's 10 percent of their workforce and 10 percent of their budget."
"I am fully supportive of having a group closer to what's happening in space that can help the government with [its] acquisition process," the CEO stated.