Sky’s no longer the limit

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - EDITORIAL PAGE -

Con­cerned that the satel­lites Amer­i­cans and our mil­i­tary de­pend on are in jeop­ardy, the top Repub­li­can and top Demo­crat on the House Sub­com­mit­tee on Strate­gic Forces are push­ing a pro­posal to cre­ate a new branch of the armed ser­vices: the United States Space Corps.

Reps. Mike Rogers, R-Ala., and Jim Cooper, D-Tenn., say space is not get­ting enough mil­i­tary at­ten­tion. Amer­i­cans com­mu­ni­cate through satel­lites and nav­i­gate by them. China has proved that it can de­stroy a satel­lite by tak­ing out one of its own. Were an en­emy to at­tack U.S. satel­lites, it “would crush our econ­omy and par­a­lyze our mil­i­tary.”

The pro­posal, which has al­ready passed the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives as part of de­fense au­tho­riza­tion, would put the Space Corps un­der the Air Force, much as the Marines are un­der the Navy. It faces an up­hill bat­tle. The sec­re­tary of the Air Force says it would make mil­i­tary bu­reau­cracy more com­plex at a time when “we are try­ing to sim­plify it.”

But some­times, new bu­reau­cracy is worth build­ing. We rely on satel­lites, so they must be pro­tected.

Mil­i­tary development can lead to tech­no­log­i­cal progress. The GPS sys­tem was cre­ated for the mil­i­tary. The In­ter­net was born from De­fense Depart­ment research. And then there’s the Jeep. It’s too soon to tell what tech­nolo­gies a Space Corps might foster. But it’s not too soon to look forward to see­ing how they’ll con­trib­ute to civil­ian life.

And while a Space Corps ded­i­cated to pro­tect­ing satel­lites is a long way from a Starfleet that could help col­o­nize other plan­ets or pro­tect those colonies, it may be the germ of one—and with Elon Musk, Jeff Be­zos, and Richard Bran­son all work­ing on com­mer­cial space flight, Amer­i­cans alive to­day may live to need a mil­i­tary branch that can pro­tect them in or­bit and be­yond.

It all comes down to three words, re­ally: “Make it so.”

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