Ex-astronaut: Trump's plan for a Space Force 'redundant,' 'wasteful'

Ex-astronaut: Trump's plan for a Space Force 'redundant,' 'wasteful'
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Former NASA astronaut Mark Kelly says President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump campaign buys full page ads in Miami newspapers ahead of Dem debates Trump administration's 'forced diplomacy' with Iran isn't working Roy Moore trails Republican field in Alabama MORE's plan for a military branch with jurisdiction over outer space is "redundant" and "wasteful."

Kelly, who participated in several NASA missions to the International Space Station, said during an interview Thursday on MSNBC that Trump is the only person who thinks a "Space Force" is a good idea.

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"The only person that I’ve heard say this is a fantastic idea is the commander in chief, the president of the United States," Kelly said. "Everybody else says it’s redundant, it's wasteful."

"There is a threat out there," he added, "but it's being handled by the U.S. Air Force today, doesn't make sense to build a whole other level of bureaucracy in an incredibly bureaucratic [Defense Department]," he added. 

Still, some lawmakers have expressed support for Trump's plan to create a Space Force.

The leaders of a House Armed Services subommittee praised Trump's plan in a joint statement on Thursday, calling it a "much-needed" advancement of U.S. defense policy.

“We have been warning for years of the need to protect our space assets and to develop more capable space systems," Reps. Mike RogersMichael (Mike) Dennis RogersOvernight Defense: Latest on Iran after Trump halts planed strike | Dems call Trump's approach 'erratic' | Key Republican urges Trump to retaliate | Esper reportedly getting Defense secretary nomination GOP rep: Trump needs to retaliate against Iran to deter other hostile nations Huawei is national security issue, not trade football for our leaders MORE (R-Ala.) and Jim CooperJames (Jim) Hayes Shofner CooperHouse panel OKs space military branch Overnight Defense: Officials approved sending Saudis nuclear technology after Khashoggi killing | Space Command pick warns of challenges ahead | Lawmakers clash over bill blocking low-yield nukes House panel members butt heads over bill blocking low-yield nukes MORE (D-Tenn.) said.

"We particularly appreciate Deputy Secretary [Patrick] Shanahan’s leadership on these issues and look forward to the establishment of a much-needed independent Space Force, as called for by President Trump,” they said.

The Republican-controlled House nearly added a provision to the annual defense reauthorization bill that would have created a "Space Corps" under the jurisdiction of the Air Force, but the provision was dropped from the final bill after facing opposition from the Senate and Pentagon leaders, including Defense Secretary James MattisJames Norman MattisNew Defense chief: Our 'priorities remain unchanged' The Hill's 12:30 Report: Trump targets Iran with new sanctions Trump urged to quickly fill Pentagon post amid Iran tensions MORE.

Trump first announced his plans to create a military branch for space in March. In June, he directed the Pentagon to begin creating the military branch.

“When it comes to defending America, it is not enough to merely have an American presence in space. We must have American dominance in space,” the president said at the time. “We are going to have the Air Force and we are going to have the Space Force, separate but equal.”