Battlestar America

How America is preparing for a star war

By Morgan Walsh

As 2019 draws to a close, and with it the 2010s, it can be concluded that it was an eventful year for all things space-related. This year Nasa received its first image of a black hole, the Apollo Mission celebrated its 100th year anniversary, and Area 51 was “raided”. In the coming weeks, Star Wars fans also look forward to the release of the franchise’s newest movie The Rise of Skywalker, which will hopefully make amends for the long-debated monstrosity that was The Last Jedi. Though there are less than 2 weeks till the coffin is closed on 2019, the decade isn’t quite ready to give its last breath. Since June 2018 when President Trump first suggested the idea, there has been much speculation over whether or not the United States Space Force would ever “take off”. Last week, a new military bill ensures that as America enters 2020, its skies (and the space beyond them) will be safe from Russian satellites or invading aliens in the coming years.

As outrageous as it may sound, this is not a joke (other than the take off pun). Last Wednesday, The House of Representatives authorized a bill called the 2020 National Defense Authorization Act, which “launched” the Space Force. Granted, its job will not be to protect against extraterrestrials. While the idea of this new department may sound out of this world to some, the integration of the space force into the existing military will be a relatively smooth one. Just like how the Marines are part of the Navy, the Space Force will fall under the domain of the Air Force which was already on top of space defense. One possible deterrent to the creation of the new branch may have been the price tag, considering America’s other space department, Nasa, has a meager yearly budget of a mere 20 billion dollars. Luckily, the operation is estimated to only cost 2 billion dollars over the course of 5 years, which hardly put a dent in the United State’s annual budget of 4 trillion dollars (half of which is spent nurturing their Amazon shopping addiction). The U.S. Space Command, which was established in 1985, was reactivated last August, so perhaps the recent commissioning of the Space Force, instead of being a giant leap for mankind, may have been a bit overdue. 

So if there was already a Space Command and the Air Force was already tasked with monitoring the skies, what exactly will the Space Force do? Is America about to present its own version of stormtroopers to the global community? Is the moon going to turn into a battleground? No, or at least not for the foreseeable future. The job of the Space Force isn’t actually do any intergalactic fighting, rather it’s responsible for the operation of space-based military equipment and training people to go to space and operate said equipment. Space Force isn’t really free to create a death star on the moon either. It has to adhere to not only the Air Force, but the far older department, Space Command. Space Command is in charge of deciding if it is in the best interest of national security for space to be monitored, or if troops should communicate via technology in space. Right now, there are no plans for the U.S. to partake in any interstellar battles. The new Space Force simply ensures that the U.S. can acquire “space-age” tech and keep up with other countries who may be interested in expanding its satellites or military into the final frontier as well. As mentioned earlier, the Air Force has been mainly responsible for space defenses but prefers to direct its focus to stuff within Earth’s atmosphere. The hope for the Space Force is that it will peacefully monitor and assess any threats from space without having to bust out laser guns and reenact a scene from Alien or Ender’s Game. 

It is once again the time of year that people start forming up New Year’s resolutions and I believe that might just be what the Space Force is for America. The Space Force holds the potential to prove itself to be a valuable asset to national security. Then again, perhaps Americans’ fears of invaders (whether they are attacking from this planet or a galaxy far, far away) will remain unfound and there’s simply no need for the latest addition to the army.  In 1962, President Kenndey gave his famous address at Rice University. In that address, he said that we choose to go to the moon “because that challenge is one we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one we intend to win, and others too.” Whether it be launching probes into space or landing a man on the moon, the U.S. has overcome many challenges in the name of space exploration in the past 100 years. The creation of the Space Force could bring forth new challenges for America, especially if coupled with space diplomacy, but may also serve as a stepping stone into human expansion into the great unknown. 

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