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The Space Force is designed to protect US interests in space

Space Force, the new sixth branch of the American armed forces, is not just one of President Donald Trump's favorite projects. The Space Force is primarily intended to enforce US influence in space, which is increasingly being questioned by China and Russia. And the protection of satellites in space, which can easily be destroyed, has long been a national security task.

At the end of July, the American armed forces founded the Combined Space Operations Center (CSpOC) in California, through which the US's space activities are to be coordinated with the allies.

Photo: Dave Grim / US Air Force

NASA plans to complete the first manned test flights with the Starliner space capsule from Boeing next year. The US wants to become independent of the Russian Soyuz capsules, which are currently the only ones that can bring astronauts and material to the ISS.

Photo: Robert Markowitz / NASA

Manned test flights are also planned for 2019 with SpaceX's Dragon space capsule.

Photo: Robert Markowitz / NASA

When President Trump presented the Space Force as a new, sixth branch of arms in June, he emphasized that the US wanted to use it to protect its influence in space. The scenario behind it may sound as utopian as the Star Wars. But the states on earth are becoming more and more vulnerable the more their communications and services, such as civil and military navigation, depend on satellites in near-earth orbit. The satellites circling there are currently completely unprotected and can easily be switched off - with devastating consequences for the earth.

No wonder that the Space Force is supposed to take care of how the interests of the US and its satellites can be protected in space. But so far the Space Force is not a done deal. Because such a new branch of arms needs money and personnel - and for that Trump needs the support of parliament. The MPs will probably not decide on the creation of a space force until the beginning of 2019.

The content of the Space Policy Directive 3

With the new "Space Directive 3", which Trump signed, the US is pursuing the goal of taking over traffic management in space and at the same time limiting the risks of junk flying around in space as much as possible. At the same time, the Space Force is supposed to direct traffic in space. Because it is also increasing thanks to civil space companies such as SpaceX and Virgin.

For Trump, the Space Force is the instrument to remain the leading nation in space travel. "America was the first country to fly a powered airplane and was also the first country to put people on the moon," said Trump. “America will also be the leading country in space. We don't want it to become China or Russia! "

The first task is to protect against space debris

First of all, the Space Force should collect all of the near-earth space debris and make the data available free of charge. The aim is to capture the junk using new techniques that NASA, ESA, DLR and Lockheed Martin are working on, and to render them harmless. ISS crews have already had to dodge space junk four times and quickly escape to the Soyuz capsule.

The national self-image of the USA also includes eliminating dependency on foreign providers. For example, since 2011 the USA has no longer been able to bring its astronauts to the ISS itself and is dependent on flights from Russian Soyuz rockets.

NASA has now announced manned test flights with the Dragon space capsule from the private space company SpaceX for April 2019. Similar test flights are to take place together with Boeing in mid-2019. Boeing has developed the space transporter CST-100 Starliner for this purpose.

A contribution by:

  • Axel Mörer-Funk

  • Peter Odrich

    Peter Odrich studied business administration with a focus on transport companies. After 28 years as a business editor for a German national daily newspaper with long activity in East Asia, he returned to his native Great Britain. Since then he has reported freelance for newspapers and technical information services in various countries. Transport issues, metals and East Asian issues are in the foreground.