President Donald Trump declared Monday (June 18) that he will move to make a new branch of the military. This branch be focused solely on defending US interest in space.
"I am hereby directing the Department of Defense and Pentagon to immediately begin the process necessary to establish a space force as the sixth branch of the armed forces," Trump said during a meeting of the National Space Council.
"Our destiny beyond the Earth is not only a matter of national identity but a matter of national security," Trump said.
The idea of a "Space Force" isn't new for President Trump. He floated the idea during a March 13th speech detailing his national security strategy. The president described then how he had originally coined the term as a joke, while discussing U.S. government spending and private investment in space.
"We have the Air Force, we'll have the space force," Trump said in March.
In the National Defense Authorization Act, the House Armed Services Committee proposed last June the establishment of a space corps, a new branch of the military that would fall under the command of the Air Force. This branch's relationship to the Air Force would be similar to the Marine Corps' ties to the Navy. The space corps would have an area of responsibility that encompasses the vast expanse outside of the Earth's atmosphere.
At the time, the White House, the Air Force as well as Secretary of Defense James Mattis disapproved of creating a sixth branch of the military.
While the legislation passed the House, the space corps bid did not make it into the final defense authorization bill in November.
The addition of a service branch would be the first in 71 years. The Air Force is the nation's youngest branch and was added shortly after World War II.