Looking at the stars is no longer a hobby or scientific field job. For decades the small strip of territory at the edges of our planet’s atmosphere have transitioned from dreams and philosophy to business and now into politics.
The realm once dedicated to fascination and dreams will soon become the next push for global strategic and political power.
The Trump administration is upending decades of American retreat in the final frontier to pull ahead of Russia and China in a 21st-century space race, according to a top Trump administration official.
Justin Johnson, deputy assistant secretary of defense for space policy, outlined the “historic” steps taken by the White House to reverse decades of decline in the modern-day space race. The establishment of the Space Force, which is approaching its first anniversary, and other measures taken to project American power beyond earth’s boundaries have bolstered national security.
“There was growing concern that Russia and China were moving faster than we were in space, that their threats were growing faster than we were able to respond,” Johnson said in an exclusive interview with the Washington Free Beacon. “That drove us to a point where we had to make a fundamental shift and try to go at this problem in a different way. The conclusion was that we need a Space Force and a Space Command. That’s what we’ve done, that’s what we’ve stood up.”
The frenetic pace of progress in space policy is not just limited to the creation of the Space Force. In 2017, the Trump administration resuscitated the long-defunct National Space Council as an umbrella organization for interagency dialogue about key space issues and also re-created the United States Space Command, which was put on ice during the George W. Bush years, to support the overall space defense effort. These policies have enhanced the potential for adding secure 5G networks from space to the American defense portfolio in addition to improving existing American space capabilities, such as surveillance, weather forecasting for military operations, and critical navigation systems.
Johnson pointed to the integral ways in which space anchors American industry and the “American way of war,” noting that most Americans are not fully aware of how frequently things like telecommunications, GPS, financial transactions, and other technologies flow through space.
“We would have billions, if not trillions of dollars in economic consequences if we lost our space capabilities,” Johnson told the Free Beacon, noting that space is a key engine of the $20 trillion American economy. “[China and Russia] recognized something that we were dependent on in the U.S. and in our military, and they’ve developed ways to take our space capabilities away.”
Moscow and Beijing—sometimes in tandem—have developed a suite of weaponry to challenge American supremacy in space. Anti-satellite weapons, including lasers and missiles, satellites able to shoot projectiles, and earth-based weapons systems, all contribute to a larger challenge to the free and safe use of space.
China now has the most launch sites of any country in the world, along with a massive budget to fund its space program, in a larger effort to transform itself into a “space great power,” a fellow senior Pentagon official told the Free Beacon in September. Russia, meanwhile, has shown itself as an overt challenger to American interests in space. In February, Moscow trailed its own satellite behind an American spy satellite in a show of force toward America. Both countries have also used their space capabilities to wage regional wars.