Plans for a US military “Space Corps” have been scrapped, after the proposal was left out of the final version of the $700 billion National Defense Authorization Act.
Congress planned to create a new military branch dedicated to space, like the Marine Corps, but the Air Force had fought against the proposed space corps as it would have taken over the military’s space operations.
Instead, the NDAA gives Air Force Space Command’s sole authority to organize, train and equip all space forces.
Chief backers of the initial proposal remain positive, however, seeing the bill as a good start to prevent a “space Pearl Harbour.”
“We are pleased the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2018 takes the first step in fundamentally changing and improving the national security space programs of the Department of Defense and the U.S. Air Force in particular,” Reps. Mike Rogers (R-Ala.) and Jim Cooper (D-Tenn.) said in a statement.
The NDAA requires the deputy secretary of defense to contract a federally-funded research and development corporation to study the issue.
It also contains some changes about how the military handles space, such as removing a number of bureaucratic positions such as the Defense Space Council and deputy chief of staff for space operations.
The space corps was met with opposition from Defense Secretary James Mattis and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Joseph Dunford. They felt that while the military needs to do more in space, the creation of a military branch is premature.
“At a time when Russia and China are developing new offensive capabilities designed to deafen and blind America in a future conflict, lack of accountability and leadership on space issues, as well as development and acquisition failures, undermine our national security and leave the country vulnerable,” Rogers and Cooper said.
The House will consider the measure next week, while the Senate plans to take it up before the end of November.