- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 29, 2019

President Trump revived the U.S. Space Command in a formal White House ceremony Thursday, putting the commander-in-chief a step closer to launching a military branch focused on the final frontier.

Mr. Trump said the command will protect U.S. satellites and watch for enemy missile launches under the leadership of Air Force Gen. John W. Raymond.

“The dangers to our country constantly evolve, and so must we,” Mr. Trump said from the Rose Garden. “Now, [for] those who wish to harm the United States, to seek to challenge us in the ultimate high ground of space — it’s going to be a whole different ball game.”

Thursday’s action does not establish a separate “Space Force,” which must be approved by Congress.

Still, Mr. Trump hailed the revival of the command as a special moment along the way, as space joins “land, air, sea and cyber as vital war fighting domains.”

“This is a landmark day, one that recognizes the centrality of space to America’s national security and defense,” he said.

The president frequently touts his dream of a separate Space Force at campaign rallies.

Congress is starting to looking to inch the project forward as part of fiscal 2020 spending legislation. The idea is to house the Space Force under the Air Force for now.

Reviving the Space Command was an easier lift for the Pentagon. The command existed decades ago, though it was dissolved into the Strategic Command as part of a military reorganization following the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

Sen. Kevin Cramer, North Dakota Republican, called on Congress to carry out all of Mr. Trump’s vision.

“Our capabilities in space provide our military forces with significant advantages, which is why our enemies target this domain,” he said. “I applaud President Trump and his administration for acting quickly to maintain our dominance in space, and I look forward to working with my colleagues in Congress to finish the job of establishing a modernized, independent and fully functional Space Force.”

Mr. Trump’s first defense secretary, James N. Mattis, was wary of spending defense dollars on a separate Space Force, but the current secretary, Mark T. Esper, has offered support.

Mr. Trump frequently touts the force at his campaign rallies and other events, including a formal welcome ceremony for Mr. Esper at the Pentagon.

“Whenever I make a speech, people start going wild,” Mr. Trump said July 25. “They stand up and they clap, and I can’t sit them down. And I have to wait because I say, ‘We’re launching the United States Space Force.’ They go absolutely wild.”

Beyond defense, Mr. Trump has made the revival of NASA and its space exploration mission a recurring theme of his first term.

He says U.S. astronauts will return to the moon and then visit Mars.

“We’re investing in the future of human spaceflight and someday soon, American astronauts will plant the stars and stripes on the surface of Mars,” he told supporters in New Hampshire this month.

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