President Trump is fond of suggesting that the five branches of the U.S. armed forces are not enough. On Monday, he directed the Defense Department to create a Space Force as the sixth branch of the U.S. military, saying “We are going to have the Air Force and we are going to have the Space Force, separate but equal.” This follows a statement the president made in March while address the Miramar Marine Corps Air Station, in which he said, “Space is a war-fighting domain, just like the land, air and sea.”
This is a horrible proposition.
In making these statements, Trump is parroting lines from people who know a lot about war and nothing about space. First of all, space is considered a “province of mankind,” according to the Outer Space Treaty of 1967 — which the United States and more than 100 other countries are parties to. This treaty lays out the principle that space is a domain that belongs to us all, not just to some states.
Second, war in space is particularly dangerous because it is a uniquely pollutable domain. The more space pollution there is, the more difficult it is for any of us to use space. [Continue reading…]