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Abstract

On June 18, 2018, at a meeting of the National Space Council, President Trump announced that he had directed the Department of Defense and the Pentagon “to immediately begin the process necessary to establish a space force as the sixth branch of the armed forces.” There are distinct legal, logistical, budgetary, and political challenges that must be resolved before a Space Force comes into being, and this paper provides insight into all of these issues. The legal section notes that while certain military activities are permitted in outer space, defensive weapons are likely the only systems that a Space Force would be able to deploy without facing legal challenges. The military section highlights the significant presence of the U.S. Air Force in outer space since the 1980s and the benefits military space systems provide to the U.S. and our allies. Next, the political section addresses the mixed Congressional reaction to the proposal and emphasizes the need for bipartisanship on the issue. Finally, recommendations to the U.S. government are provided, including the need for the Space Force to adhere to international laws, the need for increased public awareness of the Space Force’s mission, and the need for public and Congressional support. The analysis has determined that a Space Force operating as an independent military branch of the armed forces is financially and logistically feasible, but the proposal also raises moral and ethical questions, such as how a Space Force would contribute to international peace and security.

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