Defense

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

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Former NASA astronaut Mark Kelly says President Trump’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 Rogers (R-Ala.) and Jim Cooper (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 Mattis.

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.”

Tags Astronauts Defense Department Donald Trump Donald Trump James Mattis Jim Cooper Mark Kelly Mike Rogers NASA Pentagon Space force

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