Trump announces ‘Space Force’ plan as he signs space policy directive



President Donald Trump holds a signed National Space Directive to establish a Space Traffic Management program to address the congestion of satellites and space vehicles in Earth’s orbit during a meeting with the National Space Council on Monday, June 18, 2018 in the East Room of the White House, in Washington, D.C. (Olivier Douliery/Abaca Press/TNS)

By Samantha Masunaga, Los Angeles Times

WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump signed a space policy directive Monday aimed at coordinating federal and industry efforts to manage space traffic and debris ahead of the expected launch of hundreds or even thousands of small satellites.

Trump also said he would direct the Defense Department and Gen. Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, to create the Space Force as a sixth branch of the U.S. armed forces.

“We are going to have the Air Force, and we are going to have the Space Force,” Trump said. “Separate but equal.”


Written materials distributed by the White House about the space policy plan do not mention the Space Force. The plan, signed at the White House during the third National Space Council meeting, is intended to help companies rapidly access information about the location in space where they want to launch.

This could help give companies more flexibility in launch windows and prevent satellites from using their onboard fuel to maneuver away from potential collisions with other satellites or space debris, Scott Pace, executive secretary of the National Space Council, said in a Monday morning call with reporters. He emphasized that coordination efforts and development of a framework would not happen “overnight.”

As part of the plan, federal departments and agencies will be assigned to various tasks related to space traffic and debris management, such as the Commerce Department’s job to make space safety data available to the public. The Defense Department will continue to maintain a catalog of space objects.