Federal service in space

Recently the House of Representatives passed an appropriations bill for the Defense Department and our military. This is a rather insignificant event in and of itself. The House is supposed to do this sort of thing on a regular basis. There was a provision nestled into this bill though that caught my eye and the eyes of futurists all over. It was spending specifically for a new service, to be managed under the umbrella of the Air Force. This service would be a sort of space corps.

“SUBTITLE _—MANAGEMENT AND ORGANIZATION OF SPACE PROGRAMS
Section 16xx—Establishment of Space Corps in the Department of the Air Force
This section would authorize the creation of a Space Corps within the
Department of the Air Force and require the Secretary of the Air Force to certify its
establishment by January 1, 2019. The Space Corps would be led by the Chief of
Staff of the Space Corps and would be composed of such offices and officials
determined appropriate by the Secretary of the Air Force, in consultation with the
Chief of Staff of the Space Corps. This section would further provide that the Chief
of Staff of the Space Corps would be appointed for a term of 6 years, be a member of
the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and would report directly to the Secretary of the Air Force,
as a co-equal of the Chief of Staff of the Air Force.
The Secretary of the Air Force would be given Milestone Decision Authority
for space acquisition programs, including with respect to research, development,
test, and evaluation and procurement. This section would not affect the authority of
the other Services to purse Service-specific user terminals for space programs. This
section would also not affect the authorities of the Director of the National
Reconnaissance Office and the Director of the National Geospatial-intelligence
Agency. This section would terminate the Principal Department of Defense Space
Advisor and Defense Space Council.
16
Nothing in this section would authorize or require the relocation of any
facilities, infrastructure, or military installations of the Air Force.
Lastly, this section would require the Secretary of Defense to provide to the
congressional defense committees an interim report by March 1, 2018, and a final
report by August 1, 2018, on the plan for the establishment of the Space Corps,
recommendations by the Secretary of Defense, and other specified matters related
to such. “

The above is the full text of the proposal. I was just going to include a link to the bill but I didn’t want anyone to suffer under the impression that I had been suckered by fake news. This is very real. It is H.R.2810. As you can see from the text, no one is going to be doing power-armor drops out of the Rodger Young yet. I think this is significant though and it is worth having a short discussion about here today. So in that spirit, what does this mean?

Lets address the need for this. It should be one hundred percent obvious that there is currently and will be an ever accelerating need for this. Think about how dependent we are on our satellite network. It powers our communications networks. We use them to gather information on nearly everything. The U.S. and private firms in the U.S. are piloting programs that would use them to broadcast wi-fi to the world free or otherwise. While we have or are at at least developing technologies to protect them, as always actual human ability is I think preferable. In addition asteroid mining is not nearly as far away as people believe it is. I think we that we will be exploring and beginning these projects inside of the next two decades. If this is the case, how better do administer security? Finally on this point I think it is worth thinking about the reality of off world travel. We will not be achieving any form of peaceful one world government before we begin space colonization, because of this it is necessary to be able to take and occupy either settlements or launching stations should God forbid war ever break out between space age world powers.

With a clear need thus established, how then should something like this be organized? I think it is a mistake to establish it under the guidance of the Air Force. This makes some superficial sense because there will obviously be plenty of flying and air transport involved to make a service like this work, but that is not nearly all it will be doing. For this reason it should be a completely separate service, like the Marines or the Army. It needs room to breathe, grow, and develop itself organically distinct from whatever already developed biases may exist within the Air Force structure. If it must be symbiotic with another organization, I propose bringing NASA in to this newly established framework. This makes sense to me for several reasons. This would bring in a great deal of preexisting expertise. This would protect funding for NASA projects due to the natural reluctance to cut defense spending in the U.S. This would also help get the entire project up and running that much faster due to the amount of material and personnel that would exist to be retrained and reassigned, however modestly. Finally I am always in favor of stream lining government and this would also serve that purpose.

This entire endeavor will not be cheap or easy to bring about. I think however that it is a wise and over due decision. The common defense is one of the few explicit reasons that our federal government exists, and this is a very forward thinking application of the common defense. We need to be able to protect our nation and our nation’s interests and as we move ever closer to being a multi-planet species of the stars we must answer the hard questions about how to best defend ourselves out there in space. This is the next step in doing just that. So let me wrap up by asking are you ready to join the army and see the universe?

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