In a recent interview with technology site Recode, SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk expressed his support for the creation of a “Space Force”. Musk’s comments join a recent chorus of support coming from both civil and military heavyweights.
During the interview with Recode’s co-founder and editor-at-large, Kara Swisher, Musk likened the creation of a Space Force to that of the Air Force. “You know, like, when the Air Force was formed, there was a lot of like pooh-poohing, and like, ‘Oh, how silly to have an Air Force,” said Musk. “And people today may not realize back then it was widely panned as a ridiculous thing to create the Air Force, and I think it’s gonna become obvious that we should have a Space Force, too.”
The SpaceX CEO admitted that his opinion may be controversial in the current climate. However, over the past few months, many in the industry have come out in support of the idea. Some believe it is just the next natural step while many military analysts believe it is vital to secure valuable assets in orbit.
Earlier this year, famed astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson dismissed criticism of the proposed department. “Just because it came out of Trump’s mouth, it doesn’t mean it’s a crazy idea. It’s been around for a while,” he said. “Space is similarly different from air than air is from ground infantry.”
In addition to support from civil society, the proposed Space Force plans have garnered increasing support from the military. During a recent interview, Stephen Kitay, the current deputy assistant secretary of defence for space policy explained, “the fact of the matter is, I think, that people don’t necessarily understand what we’re talking about. They don’t understand how these satellites are critical for national security and our way of life.”
Although the proposal seems to have the approval of both civil and military pundits, it will soon face Congress. With US midterm elections this week largely predicted to swing in the favour of the Democrats, the proposal’s path through Congress may be fraught with obstacles.