US launches Space Command as great power competition returns to the cosmos

The United States will formally launch the US Space Command today, which will work with the yet-to-be-launched Space Force to

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The United States will formally launch the US Space Command today, which will work with the yet-to-be-launched Space Force to coordinate military operations above 100 km in altitude.

While the Space Force will provide personnel, assets and capabilities, the Space Command is expected to plan, coordinate and manage space operations.

The launch of Space Command, and the plan to roll out the Space Force in 2020, signal the resumption of a great power competition in the cosmos—Russia and China also possess military capabilities in space. Both countries have made significant progress in recent years, including upgrading intelligence and surveillance capabilities, space launch vehicles and satellite navigation constellations.

Despite today’s milestone the Trump administration faces challenges in getting congressional approval and funding for the Space Force, which is estimated to cost up to $2 billion over the next five years, in addition to start-up costs of up to $4.7 billion.

Although the new military unit will be a division of the Air Force for now, the Space Force will ultimately be established as a sixth branch of the US Armed Forces. With Russia and China undoubtedly looking into similar measures, Space Command and the launch of Space Force could ultimately set off another arms race as countries look to take advantage of the growing weaponisation of the cosmos.

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