If you’re like most people, you probably think Donald Trump’s “Space Force” is a farce – yet another imaginary accomplishment that only his most hardcore supporters take seriously. You aren’t necessarily wrong, but Trump’s pathetically blatant attempt to sell more hats and t-shirts does have serious consequences, especially when it comes to actual American space policy.
Many of the jobs that Trump’s so-called Space Force would accomplish, such as launching rockets and repairing satellites, are carried out by the Air Force Space Command. It’s not clear if Trump is even aware that this branch exists, as he directed the Department of Defense, a department without a formally appointed head, to create a sixth branch of the military. Members of Congress, including Trump’s staunchest supporters like Senator Tom Cotton, have openly expressed uncertainty as to why the Space Force is something they need to fund as a separate branch from Air Force Space Command, particularly when the proposed budget is $14 billion.
Meanwhile, Republicans like Ted Cruz – who embarrassed himself recently by trying to defend Space Force – are continuing to gut NASA’s budget, partly because they’re hoping to suppress the NASA’s climate change research and the satellites that regularly transmit dire data about the worsening state of our planet. Cruz has argued in the past that climate research is a distraction from space exploration. But the reality is that climate chang, particularly with rising sea levels in Cape Canaveral, is detrimental to the future of space exploration, if bases are regularly damaged by flooding.
While Trump’s Space Force nonsense deserves to be scrutinized and exposed for the fraud that it is, the problem is that it casts all spending towards space research and development in a bad light – programs that bring about crucial innovation and create jobs.
James Sullivan is the assistant editor of Brain World Magazine and an advocate of science-based policy making