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Trump’s ‘Space Force’ Is Serious And We Just Got a Bunch of New Details

Vice President Pence laid out an ambitious plan Thursday that would begin creating a military command dedicated to space and establish a “Space Force” as the sixth branch of the US military as soon as 2020, the first since the Air Force was formed shortly after World War II.

Pence warned of the advancements that potential adversaries are making and issued what amounted to a call to arms to preserve the military’s dominance in space.

“Just as we’ve done in ages past, the United States will meet the emerging threats on this new battlefield,” he said in a speech at the Pentagon.

“The time has come to establish the United States Space Force.”

But the monumental task of standing up a new military department, which would require approval by a Congress that shelved the idea last year, may require significant new spending and a reorganization of the largest bureaucracy in the world.

And the idea has already run into fierce opposition inside and outside the Pentagon, particularly from the Air Force, which could lose some of its responsibilities.

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis last year said he opposed a new department of the military “at a time when we are focused on reducing overhead and integrating joint warfighting functions.”

This week, Mattis said the Pentagon and the White House “are in complete alignment” on the need to view space as a warfighting domain. But he stopped short of endorsing a full-fledged Space Force.

In a briefing with reporters after Pence’s speech, Deputy Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan suggested that Mattis’s comments opposing the Space Force were made at a different time, before the Pentagon received a bolstered budget.

White House officials have been working with national security leaders to aggressively move ahead without Congress.

The first step is creating a new US Space Command by the end of the year, which would be led by a four-star general, the way the Pentagon’s Indo-Pacific Command oversees those regions.

The new command would pull space experts from across the armed services, and there would be a separate acquisitions office, dedicated to buying satellites and developing new technology to help the military win wars in space.

After the announcement Thursday, President Trump tweeted, “Space Force all the way!”

For months, Trump has been calling for a Space Force, a new, free-standing military department, with its own chain of command and uniforms.

In a letter to supporters Thursday, the Trump 2020 campaign said it would sell a line of gear that could come with a logo of their choosing – including one labeled “Mars Awaits” – to commemorate “President Trump’s new Space Force,” according to a copy of the email – a move that fueled criticism that the effort was motivated by politics.

The White House intends to work with lawmakers to introduce legislation by early next year, a senior administration official said, with the hope of standing up the first new military department since the Air Force was formed in 1947.

Some members of Congress and military leaders have been warning that space is no longer a peaceful sanctuary, but a domain of conflict that needs more attention and resources.

Space is vital to the way the United States wages war; the Pentagon’s satellites are used for missile defense warnings, guiding precision munitions and providing communications and reconnaissance.

Russia and China have made significant advancements, challenging the United States’ assets in space.

In 2007, China blew up a dead weather satellite with a missile, creating a massive debris cloud in orbit, which Pence called “a highly provocative demonstration of China’s growing capability to militarize space”.

China also has demonstrated the ability to hit satellites in a much deeper orbit where the military parks some of its most sensitive assets.

In his speech, Pence acknowledged the difficulties in establishing a new service, and said the Pentagon would create an assistant secretary of defense for space, a top-level civilian who will report to the defense secretary “to oversee the growth and expansion of the sixth branch of service.”

The official must sort out many details, including how the Pentagon would recruit for the Space Force and compete for resources within the Pentagon. Even basic details, such as what uniforms and what rank structure the Space Force would use, must be decided.

Some members of Congress advocated last year for creating a Space Corps in the Air Force Department, similar to how the Marine Corps is part of the Navy Department. Elevating the proposal to create a new department will mean additional Pentagon bureaucracy, critics say.

Deborah James, who served as Air Force secretary in the Obama administration, said Trump’s decision to create a full new department is “a solution in search of a problem.”

Before Trump’s announcement in June that he wanted a Space Force, Mattis and Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson had cautioned against creating new Pentagon bureaucracy to address space issues. James said she thinks they’re now “stuck because the president announced this by surprise.”

Efforts to reach several senior Air Force officials were not successful Thursday. Wilson was traveling on business and not at the Pentagon when Pence made his announcement.

Gen. David L. Goldfein, the Air Force’s top officer, and Gen. Stephen Wilson, the vice chief, sat quietly in the Pentagon auditorium as Pence spoke.

Air Force Gen. Paul Selva, the Pentagon’s vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said in a briefing with reporters that the Pentagon is very much in favor of establishing a Space Command as a way to speed up efforts in space.

But when it comes to establishing a new branch of the military, Selva said, “there’s an obligation” to present a set of options that can be presented to Congress.

“He’s the commander in chief,” Selva said of the president.

The White House has pushed for Congress to invest an additional US$8 billion in national security space systems over the next five years.

The new command and reorganization “should be budget-neutral,” Scott Pace, the executive secretary of the National Space Council, said in an interview.

“However, going forward, there probably will need to be an increase in resources to buy improved capabilities and more warfighters as the Space Force matures.”

After Pence’s speech, Reps. Mike D. Rogers and Jim Cooper, members of the House Armed Services Committee, praised the move, saying a Space Force “will result in a safer, stronger America.”

“We have been warning for years of the need to protect our space assets and to develop more capable space systems,” they said in a joint statement.

In his speech, Pence urged the audience to support the administration’s effort to create the department.

Speaking to a room made up mostly of US troops in uniform, Pence said their “commander in chief is going to continue to work tirelessly toward this goal, and we expect you all to do the same.”

“The only thing we can’t afford is inaction,” he said.

2018 © The Washington Post

This article was originally published by The Washington Post.

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The Interstellar Research Initiative plans to send people to the exoplanet of Proxima Centauri b

In an attempt to protect humanity from extinction in the event of some kind of global catastrophe of a planetary scale, a group of scientists announced a bold plan for the colonization of a distant exoplanet.

Proxima Centauri b

Scientists from the Initiative for Interstellar Studies said they were considering sending people to a potentially inhabited exoplanet in another stellar system.

The most promising option they consider, Proxima Centauri b, which is 4.24 light years away from Earth, which means the journey will take centuries or even millennia. This suggests that generations will succeed each other during the journey.

Technically, this is possible.

However, the challenges facing the mission are so numerous and complex that it can take decades to prepare.

“From the point of view of physics, there are no fundamental obstacles. There are many nuances, but this is not a violation of the fundamental laws of physics, ”said Andreas Hein, Executive Director of Initiative for Interstellar Studies.

No problem.

The main problem is the lack of experience being far beyond the Earth for such a period of time.

Even a flight to Mars, which will last about 6-8 months, raises a lot of questions.

Proxima Centauri b

There is no reliable protection against merciless radiation yet. Medical problems caused by a prolonged stay in space are still poorly understood. Other than that, there is no guarantee that Proxima Centauri b is indeed liveable.

Can you imagine what a setup would be if people born on a spaceship for one purpose would come to a planet absolutely unsuitable for settlement …

However, the authors of the project do not plan to curtail the program and continue to work actively in this direction.

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European Space Agency to launch space waste collector

A four-armed robotic junk collector will be launched into space by the European Space Agency in what it says will be the first mission to remove an item of debris from orbit.

European Space Agency to launch space waste collector

The ClearSpace-1 mission, scheduled for launch in 2025, will cost €120m and will grab a single piece of junk. But the agency hopes the mission will pave the way for a wide-reaching clear-up operation, with Esa’s director general calling for new rules that would compel those who launch satellites to take responsibility for removing them from orbit once they are retired from use.

Jan Wörner, CEO of ESA, said:

Imagine how dangerous sailing the high seas would be if all the ships ever lost in history were still drifting on top of the water. That is the current situation in orbit, and it cannot be allowed to continue.

In the past 60 years, thousands of tonnes of junk has accumulated around the Earth, including old rocket parts, about 3,500 defunct satellites and an estimated 750,000 smaller fragments, some from collisions between larger bits of junk. The fragments are typically circulating with a velocity of 20,000km/h (12,500mph).

Unless a clear-up operation is mounted, the chances of collisions will escalate as thousands more satellites are put into orbit.

Funding for the mission was agreed at Space19+, ESA’s misterial council, which took place in Seville, Spain, at the end of November. The mission will be run by a consortium led by a Swiss startup called Clearspace.

The target for ClearSpace-1 is a piece of junk called Vespa, which was left in an orbit around 800km above the Earth by ESA’s Vega launcher in 2013. Vespa weighs 100kg – around the size of a small satellite – and was selected because it has a simple shape and sturdy construction, which make it unlikely to fragment when it is grabbed.

The “chaser” ClearSpace space probe will be launched into the target orbit where it will track down Vespa, grab it using a quartet of robotic arms and drag it out of orbit, with Vespa and the chaser both burning up in the atmosphere on the way down to Earth.

A future ambition is to create a clear-up robot that could eject junk into the atmosphere, before continuing to capture and de-orbit other pieces of junk.

Source

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Asteroid as big as the pyramids on its way and could zoom past Earth on Friday

An asteroid as big as the Egyptian pyramids is zooming towards Earth and will squeeze past us on Friday – if it doesn’t smash on to our home planet’s surface.

Named 2019 WR3, NASA expects the space rock to make a “close approach” to Earth later this week.

The space agency has classified the asteroid as a “near-Earth object (NEO)” which means its orbit brings it very close – in cosmic terms – to Earth.

The asteroid was first spotted late last week.

NASA has now observed the asteroid some 74 times to better get a sense of its size and trajectory.

WR3 is believed to have a diameter of between 76m to 170m.

It is expected that on December 6, the asteroid will pass within 5.44 million km of Earth at speeds of 27,036 km/hr.

The warning comes as the European Space Agency approves a $471 million mission called Hera to examine whether a rogue asteroid on its way to Earth could be deflected out of the way.

Working with NASA, the ESA will send a pair of spacecraft to a double-asteroid system called Didymos to examine the asteroids and send valuable data back home.

The larger asteroid Didymoon is about 800m across, orbited by a moon about 160m wide.

If an asteroid the size of Didymoon were to hammer into Earth, it would be devastating.

Patrick Michel, ESA’s lead scientist for Hera, said it was vital to keep an eye on it so we can take action if needed.

“The probability is low but the consequences are high,” Michel told Space.com.

“This is why it’s relevant to take care of it. Moreover, we have the tools … We can’t lose more time.”

The Hera spacecraft will launch in 2024.

Meanwhile, Queens University Belfast professor Alan Fitzsimmons has called for amateur astronomers to assist the Hera mission’s broader goal of protecting Earth against asteroids by nominating asteroids to watch.

“We will get a serious asteroid impact sometime,” he told the BBC.

“It may not be in our lifetime, but mother nature controls when that will happen.

‘We will get a serious asteroid impact sometime.’

“We will need to do something about it. We’ll need to move that asteroid so it misses us and doesn’t hit us.

“Asteroid research is one area of astronomy where amateur observes continue to make an essential contribution,” he said.

Source 7news.com.au

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