Former NASA astronaut Mark Kelly has described Trump’s order to create a space force as a dumb idea.
On Monday, United States President Donald Trump revealed that he has asked the Department of Defense (DoD) to create a sixth division called the Space Force.
“We are going to have the Air Force and we are going to have the Space Force – separate but equal,” Donald Trump told space industry notables during an address to the National Space Council meeting on Monday. He was joined by Vice President Mike Pence, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine, scientists, retired astronauts, and several Cabinet members.
“It is going to be something. So important.”
Trump also showed off a ‘Space Policy Directive’ that he signed at the White House on Monday.
However, Mark Kelly, the identical twin brother of former NASA astronaut Scott Kelly, doesn’t support the idea of creating a Space Force – stating that the US Air Force already has a Space Command and a space force.
“This is a dumb idea. The Air Force does this already. That is their job,” Mark Kelly said in a tweet.
“What’s next, we move submarines to the 7th branch and call it the ‘under-the-sea force?'”
Some members of Congress have also expressed concerns on Trump’s idea.
Headquartered in Colorado, the American Space Command is managed by the US Strategic Command and has the responsibility of supporting military use of satellites, rocket launches, cyberwarfare operations, and tracking decommissioned satellites and space junk around Earth.
The idea of creating a separate Space Force is also part of the 2018 National Defense Authorization Act, which defines the space force as “a separate military department responsible for the national security space activities.” The DoD is expected to submit a final plan for the Space Force’s structure and functions by December 31, 2018.
Trump says space is a national security issue, and that he does not want ‘China and Russia and other countries leading us’. The President has also pledged to revive the country’s space program, sending US astronauts to the moon, and also send a manned mission to Mars.
Trump has announced that the new branch’s creation will be supervised by Gen. Joseph Dunford, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
“When it comes to defending America, it is not enough to merely have an American presence in space. We must have American dominance in space,” Trump said.
The U.S. signed the Outer Space Treaty, which bars the stationing of weapons of mass destruction in space, and allows only use of celestial bodies for peaceful purposes.
“My administration is reclaiming America’s heritage as the world’s greatest spacefaring nation,” Trump said in the East Room.
Reacting on Trump’s order, Senator Bill Nelson tweeted: “The president told a US general to create a new Space Force as 6th branch of military today, which generals tell me they don’t want.”
“Thankfully the president can’t do it without Congress because now is NOT the time to rip the Air Force apart. Too many important missions at stake.”