Space Command launching Aug. 29

The Trump administration will officially launch a new combatant command dedicated to space next week.

Vice President Pence and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Joseph Dunford announced at Tuesday’s National Space Council meeting in Virginia that U.S. Space Command will officially be up and running Aug. 29.

Space Command, which will be responsible for planning and executing space operations, will have 87 units at launch next week, Dunford said.

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Their capabilities will include missile warning, satellite operations, space control and space support, Dunford said.

“This step will put us on a path to maintain a competitive advantage in, as Vice President Pence described this and as the president has described it, in this critical warfighting domain,” he said. “The direction is clear, we understand it and we’re moving out.”

In June, the Senate confirmed Gen. John Raymond to be the commander of Space Command.

The creation of Space Command, the first new combatant command since U.S. Africa Command in 2009, is part of the Trump administration’s broader effort to reorganize how the U.S. military handles space. U.S. officials argue the military needs to put a greater emphasis on space to compete with Russia and China.

The administration's effort includes continued work to establish a new military branch called Space Force. New military branches must be approved by Congress.

Both the House and the Senate included some type of a space military branch in their versions of the annual defense policy bill this year, making the creation of some form of new military service likely once the two chambers reconcile their bills.

The creation of Space Command is seen as an interim step on the way to Space Force.

Dunford said Tuesday that a Space Force will “have a positive impact on our ability to grow the people and the capabilities that we’re going to need in the future.”

“I’m confident that the focus that a single service will bring to bear on space is going to have a profound difference,” he added.