Prof on US Space Force Creation: It May Have Grave Consequences for Humankind

CC0 / / The US Air Force successfully launched on Wedneday the reusable unmanned X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle, United Launch Alliance, which provides launch services to the US government, said in a statement
The US Air Force successfully launched on Wedneday the reusable unmanned X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle, United Launch Alliance, which provides launch services to the US government, said in a statement - Sputnik International
Donald Trump signed a directive that ordered the Pentagon to establish US Space Force on Tuesday. Sputnik spoke about this to Pablo de León, Ph.D., an aerospace engineer, a Professor in the area of extravehicular activities and space suit design at the Department of Space Studies, University of North Dakota.

Sputnik: Donald Trump's initiative to establish a new space military force requires Congress' approval. Will he be able to get it through, given that the majority of the House of Representatives is occupied by Democrats?

Pablo de León: We shall see what the Congress finally decides about it, but chances are it will be stopped at the House of Representatives. I think there are a number of more pressing issues in this Nation than the creation of a new branch in the Armed Forces. The Air Forces of the world were created to fight in an environment where there was a clear danger and a pressing need. In the case of the United States, the USAF was created as a separate military branch in 1947, and this happened after two World Wars, where the use of airplanes was of paramount importance. Where is that pressing need now in space?

USAF X37B spacecraft at NASA's Kennedy Space Center Shuttle Landing Facility in Cape Canaveral, Fla., Sunday, May 7, 2017. - Sputnik International
Trump Signs Directive Establishing US Space Force
Sputnik: Astronaut Mark Kelly criticised Trump's proposal, saying that a Space Force is superfluous because the USAF performs all necessary operations in space. Some experts say that Space Force could create another bureaucratic system. Is Trump's initiative really that necessary?

Pablo de León: I agree with Kelly. I do not think it is currently necessary. The Air Force Space Command and other areas are more than adequate to take care of all space-based issues the US is facing now, which are not many. A separate branch in the US only adds duplication of efforts, costs and more bureaucracy. And there are many logistical questions as well, where will all the USAF space-educated officers will go? Will they have to transition to the new Space Force? What about the NORAD and all the other space facilities, what about the X-37B and other systems?

Sputnik: How much of the federal budget could be spent on creating and funding such a project?

Pablo de León: I have been reading some preliminary budget figures, one of them by Air Force Secretary, mentioning 13 Billions, just to create it. I didn´t see figures for proposed annual budgets yet.

A ULA Atlas V rocket carrying the AEHF-4 mission for the U.S. Air Force is rolled from the Vertical Integration Facility to the launch pad at Cape Canaveral's Space Launch Complex-41. - Sputnik International
US Air Force Starts Detailed Planning for Space Force Set Up – Chief of Staff
Sputnik: Given this initiative, do you think we can see battlefields shifting into space and space wars in the future?

Pablo de León: I sincerely hope it is stopped by the Congress. Increasing unnecessary international tensions in space is, in my opinion, a wrong move, and unless there is something that we don't know, it is done unilaterally. There are way more pressing issues where we need to spend money, such a cyberattack protections for the United States. The threat of a space-based attacks as far as I know are very low, and the US already have in place protections for their space assets. I also think the creation of a Space Force can increase tensions with other space nations, such as Russia and China, and the whole idea goes against international treaties. Who knows where the creation of a Space Force may takes us, but I certainly doubt it will bring something good. At its best it is duplication of efforts, more unnecessary expenditures, and more bureaucracy in the government, and at its worst it can precipitate tensions in space which may have grave consequences for all humankind.

The views and opinions expressed by the speaker do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.

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