It’s official: U.S. President Donald Trump signed an executive order Tuesday for the creation of a “U.S. Space Command.”
The idea is to “streamline command and control of time-sensitive operations” and “consolidate space operations under a single authority” under a newly created Space Command, according to CNN. It could also be a response to what news outlets have called a “space arms race.” U.S. politicians have raised concerns, for example, over world powers like China and Russia developing possible anti-satellite technology.
The Trump Administration has been advocating for a “Space Force” — an all-out military branch — since President Trump first introduced the concept back in March.
“It is not enough to have an American presence in space,” said U.S. Vice President Mike Pence during a speech at the Pentagon in August, for instance. “We must have American dominance in space,”
READ MORE: The Latest: Trump signs order to create US Space Command [The Associated Press]
The Space Command could be laying the groundwork for the Space Force. It’ll be cheaper, for one thing: the AP reports it’ll cost just $800 million over five years, compared to a projected $13 billion for the Space Force over the same period.
The executive order could also be a concession to political reality. Congress’s Spending Bill for 2019 didn’t include any funding for a Space Force, so it will be at least a year until we could see such a branch created under the U.S. military’s command.
And the new Space Command won’t be the first in the U.S: the country founded its first Space Command in 1985, the AP pointed out, which was disbanded in 2002 in the aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, when attention was refocused to homeland security.