NASA chief Jim Bridenstine reiterated his support for President Donald Trump’s proposed new space force, calling it a critical effort to protect the Earth.
As part of the proposal, Trump wants the Pentagon to establish the Space Force as the sixth branch of the US armed forces – a move which Bridenstine claims won’t get in the way of NASA programs or funding, according to Bloomberg.
Bridenstine also reaffirmed his belief that the US should build permanent infrastructure on the moon.
Like Trump, Bridenstine framed the creation of a Space Force and guarding space as a national security issue.
‘Every baking transaction requires a GPS signal for timing,’ Bridenstine told Bloomberg.
‘You lose the GPS signal and guess what you lose? You lose banking.’
He went on to compare space to the ocean, saying ‘it’s an international domain that has commerce that needs to be protected.’
Not everyone has voiced support for the creation of a Space Force, however.
Some in the military have said they reject the idea, while others caution that the proposal won’t be easy to achieve.
Many departments have to be consulted throughout the process, as the decision has implications for a variety of military branches and agencies.
‘With every space regulation the government must consider at least seven other regulations, on average,’ a recent Deloitte study noted.
‘But it gets more complicated, as each of those seven regulations have their own citations, which also have their own citations, and so on.’
There are roughly 60 agencies in the US that deal with some space-related work, Todd Harrison, director of the Aerospace Security Project and the Center for Strategic and International Studies, told Bloomberg.
Congress has since asked the Pentagon to study the idea of creating a Space Force, with a report due out next month.
‘Our policy board will begin working on this issue, which has implications for intelligence operations for the Air Force, Army, Marines and Navy,’ Army Lieutenant Colonel Jamie Davis, a Defense Department spokesman, told Bloomberg.
‘Working with Congress, this will be a deliberate process with a great deal of input from multiple stakeholders.’
Meanwhile, Bridenstine believes Space Force personnel should also have military ranks.
‘If you look at the science fiction movies, all of the space military folks, they’re all admirals, which is, of course, a Navy rank,’ Bridenstine told Bloomberg.
Bridenstine also has expressed interest in exploring the moon and mars.
He hopes that the US can work with international partners to create a structure on the moon, like it worked with Russia on the International Space Station.
‘China is a bit of a different story,’ Bridenstine told Bloomberg. ‘It’s possible that maybe one day they could be involved, but I don’t think right now people are comfortable with that” because of issues that include intellectual property disputes and human rights.’
Bridenstine’s comments follow similar ones he made at lunar conference at NASA headquarters in May.
There, he called for commercial proposals for delivering instruments, experiments, and other small payloads to the surface of the moon.
‘You will increase our national capabilities and you will help establish our leadership in the world,’ he said.
‘We are going to draw on your interests and on your capabilities as American innovators to build capacity that will take American astronauts eventually back to the moon and to destinations farther into the solar system including Mars,’ Bridenstine continued.
The solicitation is part of a broader Exploration Campaign that will pave the way for a human return to the moon, and eventually further into the solar system.