President Donald Trump will sign an executive order establishing a U.S. Space Command as a key military command by the end of the year, according to a report.
On Tuesday, Vice President Mike Pence, who also serves as chairman of the National Space Council, is scheduled to announce the new command during his remarks at the Kennedy Space Center, in Cape Canaveral, Florida, two officials told the Associated Press.
The order, which President Trump may sign as early as Tuesday, would reestablish a U.S. Space Command, which was disbanded in 2002 in order to create the U.S. Northern Command. Functions of the Space Command were subsequently taken over by U.S. Strategic Command, while the U.S. Air Force was reinstated as the military’s leader in space.
The Air Force previously estimated that the Space Force could cost $13 billion in its first five years, though Deputy Secretary of Defense Pat Shanahan has argued that the price tag would be significantly lower, potentially falling under $5 billion.
The vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Paul Selva, told reporters in August that there are approximately 18,000 US military and civilian personnel in the Department of Defense who are involved in space operations, helping to oversee some 140 satellites. Officials say that not all of these personnel will be part of the new Space Command.
A Pentagon report released in August said the new command will “improve and evolve space warfighting,” focusing on doctrine, tactics, techniques and procedures, making it akin to Special Operations Command, which provides a similar function for US Special Operations Forces, such as US Navy SEALs and Army Special Forces.
“This new command structure for the physical domain of space, led by a four-star flag officer, will establish unified command and control for our Space Force operations, ensure integration across the military, and develop the space warfighting doctrine, tactics, techniques, and procedures of the future,” the vice-president said of the command in August.
Pence is also expected to meet with the Joint Chiefs of Staff at the Pentagon Tuesday to discuss the command, which officials say would be separate from developing a proposed Space Force as the 6th military branch.
“In concert with President Trump’s vision to ensure American national security is as dominant in space as it is on Earth and in cyberspace, the Department is developing plans for the establishment of a US Space Command and a US Space Force,” Joe Buccino, a Pentagon spokesperson, said in a statement obtained by The Hill.