President Trump told Marines during a speech at the Marine Corps Air Station Miramar in San Diego on Tuesday that space is the next frontier in … warfare! And you thought you were going to be able to take an Uber to Mars soon. You still may, but you’ll have to show your passport to the “Space Force” the president of the United States just (jokingly, at first) said was his idea that he came up with the other day. “Space is a war-fighting domain, just like the land, air, and sea,” Trump said. “We may even have a Space Force, develop another one, Space Force. We have the Air Force, we’ll have the Space Force.”
“I said ‘maybe we need a new force. We’ll call it the space force.’ Not really serious,” Trump continued. “And then I said ‘What a great idea. Maybe we’ll have to do that.’ That could happen.”
What a great idea. Creating a separate, ahem, Space Force™ was bandied about last year, but faced opposition. “The House Armed Services Committee approved a measure in June to include language to create a U.S. Space Corps, as part of the Air Force, in the 2018 National Defense Authorization Act,” Politico reports. “But the measure faced opposition from top officials in Trump’s own White House and Pentagon. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis came out against the measure in July, issuing a rare statement in support of a proposal to remove language on the space corps from the defense budget for 2018.”
Later on during his remarks, Trump somehow attempts a Hillary Clinton-Mars mission burn. “We are finally going to lead again, Trump said. “You see what’s happening; you see the rockets going up left and right. You haven’t seen that for a long time. Very soon we’re going to Mars. You wouldn’t have been going to Mars if my opponent won. That I can tell ya.”
We’ll see about that. Neel V. Patel wrote for Slate in February that the U.S. has fallen behind in the exploration of space. It hasn’t launched an astronaut from its own soil in seven years and private ventures haven’t yet filled the gap.