The Department of Defense will be investing more than $14 billion into the development of the country's space force.
To help the Air Force build the intended branch, the Department of Defense is requesting $14.1 billion from the fiscal 2020 budget. Additionally, the Air Force also wants $72.4 million to create the Space Force headquarters proposed by President Donald Trump.
The initiative is part of Trump's directive to the Pentagon to draft legislation that will give birth to the Space Force as part of the Air Force. The plan would be to turn the Space Force as the sixth branch of the military. It has been 72 years since another branch has been established. Around 15,000 personnel will comprise the Space Force initially.
"America must be fully equipped to defend our vital interests. Our adversaries are training forces and developing technology to undermine our security in space, and they're working very hard at that," Trump said in February to reporters.
U.S. Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein echoed a similar thought when he faced the members of the Senate Appropriations Defense Subcommittee on March 11. According to Goldfein, the United States needs to defend what it has in space because everyone depends on it and it would be there for some time.
"Space has been a benign domain, and so we have a lot of efforts going forward in the Air Force to make sure we are developing the cadre of space warriors to be able to do what the nation requires us to do," he added.
Pentagon's $14.1 billion request will be used to boost missile warning systems, satellites and other national security programs. Around $1.6 billion of the fund will also be used to enhance space-based missile warning capabilities. The Pentagon also seeks to put $1.7 billion specifically on rockets for national security space launches. Two companies likely to be part of the bidding are the United Launch Alliance and SpaceX. Both companies won contracts in the previous year.
The news comes after the success of the Crew Dragon's mission to dock at the International Space Station. The milestone could mean that Elon Musk's SpaceX will soon be able to allow NASA to launch American astronauts from American soil. Vadim Lukashevich, a Russian-based space expert, said the spacecraft Musk built is the ship of the future. He also noted that Musk might have shown Roscosmos who's who. Russia has always been one of the leading threats that the United States has cited in the recent years.
This article was first published in IBTimes US. Permission required for reproduction.