- Annika Santhanam
Heading to the Next Frontier - What is the U.S. Space Force?
I may sound like Elsa when I say that we’re going “into the unknown” when it comes to outer space, but it’s absolutely true! So much about space is unknown, not just information about it, but also how current world and military interests factor in. As technology and world powers continue to expand, there’s an increasing need for a branch of the U.S. military to handle our countries operations and affairs in space. Luckily for us, we already have a branch like this!
“Guardians”.....Of the Galaxy?
The U.S. Space Force, abbreviated as the USSF, was created on December 20, 2019 as a completely new and independent branch of the military, separate from the Air Force. According to the USSF website, the USSF’s mission statement is: “The USSF is a military service that organizes, trains, and equips space forces in order to protect U.S. and allied interests in space and to provide space capabilities to the joint force. USSF responsibilities include developing Guardians, acquiring military space systems, maturing the military doctrine for space power, and organizing space forces to present to our Combatant Commands.”
Now you’re probably wondering, what are ‘Guardians?’ The Guardians are actually the members of the Space Force! It’s an apt name, thinking back to the famous Guardians of the Galaxy, but in reality these Guardians do just about the same amount of work to help our country. Guardians are either civilian workers or enlisted members in the military transferred over to the Space Force branch, so whether you want to be a civilian scientist or an enlisted Space Force member, both routes are available.
USSF vs. NASA
The USSF has many roles, but it’s important not to confuse their work with the work that the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) does. As an overview, NASA is primarily focused on scientific knowledge of space and space exploration, while the USSF makes sure we maintain the freedom to move into space while defending America’s military interests in space.
Additionally, the USSF manages military satellites and the ground stations that communicate with these satellites to help maintain navigation and supervising capabilities. Remember the last time you used Google Maps or another form of the Global Positioning System (GPS)? The USSF handles those satellites, too! GPS uses many satellites deployed to help make locating people and devices extremely easy. Once handled and developed by the Air Force, GPS management has been passed onto the Space Force. Not only is this important for civilian life but in military operations, GPS provides locations of troops and combatants alike, making it extremely important for all satellites to be operational and accurate.
On top of this, according to Politico.com, the USSF also manages “jammers” to block satellite transmissions of combatants, and another responsibility it has is to manage tracking space
debris in orbit that could possibly harm spacecraft and astronauts! Though you may think that a small piece of scrap metal in space couldn’t harm anyone, it is traveling at extremely fast speeds, and could easily blow a hole in the side of a satellite or space shuttle!
Space Force Logo and Uniform
The Space Force Uniforms are designed to mimic the Air Forces, hence no cool space-themed designs (though that would have been interesting to see!) The logo has a lot of meaning behind it due to the importance of this patch for the Space Force branch. The triangular shape, referred to as a delta, is made to simulate a rocket launch into space. The triangle shape has a star in the middle, representing the North Star as the guiding light for the branch’s core values. The logo itself drew a lot of comments from the internet, comparing it to the Star Trek logo - however, this delta shape of the logo had been a part of military space organizations since 1961, while Star Trek was only released in 1966 - definitely an interesting trivia fact!
Image Source: https://www.space.com/space-force-spacepower-doctrine-capstone.html
Future Plans for the Space Force
The Space Force will continue carrying out its responsibilities in managing military satellites in space very soon! On Monday, September 27th, the Landsat 9 satellite will be lifting off from the Vandenberg Space Force Base in California, and the launch will carry along two miniature satellites flying for a Space Force mission, which is currently undisclosed. In the future, who knows how the USSF’s missions will expand!
That’s a wrap on learning about the U.S. Space Force! If you’re interested in more information visit the Space Force’s website, https://www.spaceforce.mil/. Thanks for reading and stay tuned for more articles!