Members of the United States Space Force finally have an official name. From now on, members of the force that President Donald Trump created will be known as guardians, Vice President Mike Pence announced. “It is my honor, on behalf of the President of the United States, to announce that henceforth the men and women of the United States Space Force will be known as guardians,” Pence said in a speech at the White House. “Soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines and guardians will be defending our nation for generations to come.” The guardians, Pence said, will “ensure that America remains as dominant in space, and from space, as we are on land and sea and air,” he added.
The Space Force said the name was the result of “a yearlong process” that included “hundreds of submissions and research involving space professionals and members of the general public.” Many were quick to joke that it sure sounded like someone with decision-making power simply ripped off the name from the Marvel Cinematic Universe. But the Space Force made clear in a statement that “guardians is a name with a long history in space operations” and the name traces back to an old Air Force Space Command motto from 1983, “Guardians of the High Frontier.”
This is not the first time something associated with the first new branch of the military since the Air Force was created in 1947 has been connected to Hollywood. When Trump unveiled the Space Force logo in January, many were quick to point out it looked an awful lot like the insignia from Star Trek. Many were quick to take to Twitter to joke about the new name, including James Gunn, writer and director of the Guardians of the Galaxy franchise wrote: “Can we sue this dork?”
Although the jokes seemed to write themselves, “guardian” had clearly been a top option from the beginning. In February of last year, Army Col. Dennis Wille wrote a piece for Slate analyzing the top options to call the Space Force personnel and guardian was in the running. In an informal poll by the Army Space Professional Association, the three names that received the most backing were trooper, sentinel, and guardian. “A space guardian makes sense as well, in part because of the way it invokes the heavens,” Wille wrote. “As the newest military service, some space professionals would prefer to use terminology that isn’t steeped in centuries of military history.”