President Donald Trump spoke at a ceremony on Thursday afternoon establishing the United States Space Command—a military division that was actually launched in 1985 in the midst of the Cold War.
Speaking in the Rose Garden, Trump said he was “formally establishing” Space Command, which “will ensure that America’s dominance in space is never questioned.”
But The Space Command was established 34 years ago. The Department of Defense is actually reactivating a division of the military that was shut down in 2002 so the Pentagon could reallocate resources on counter-terrorism and homeland defense following the 9/11 attacks.
As the Associated Press reports, the re-activated Space Command will handle space operations like surveilling missile launches in other countries and satellite-based communication and navigation for service members. This is much different from the “Space Force” that Trump has been touting since he first proposed creating a new branch of the military in March 2018.
But the reactivated Space Command could potentially pave the way for the creation of a Space Force.
“As a unified combatant command, the United States Space Command is the next crucial step towards the creation of an independent space force as an additional armed service,” Defense Secretary Mark Esper said at a news conference on Wednesday. “To ensure the protection of America’s interests in space, we must apply the necessary focus, energy and resources to the task—and that is exactly what Space Command will do.”