Trump Administration signs space directive policy, announces sixth military branch

WASHINGTON. President Donald J. Trump signed the Space Policy Directive – 3 (SPD-3) this week, which aims to place the U.S. as the lead in traffic management and mitigating space debris. The formal signing happened at a meeting with the National Space Council where he directed Department of Defense (DoD) and Pentagon officials to create a new military branch aptly named the Space Force.

"I’m here by directing the Department of Defense and Pentagon to immediately begin the process necessary to establish a as the sixth branch of the armed forces," Trump said during the meeting.

President Trump added that this directive "is reclaiming America’s heritage as the world’s greatest space-faring nation. The essence of the American character is to explore new horizons and to tame new frontiers. But our destiny, beyond the Earth, is not only a matter of national identity, but a matter of national security."

Space Police Directive – 3
The Space Policy Directive – 3 addresses today's concerns that space is becoming increasingly congested. With the commercializing of space, a traffic management framework is needed to protect national security needs. The directive provides "guidelines and direction to ensure that the United States is a leader in providing a safe and secure environment as commercial and civil space traffic increases," White House documents state.

Administrator Jim Bridenstine speaks during a meeting of the National Space Council in the East Room of the White House, Monday, June 18, 2018, in Washington. Photo credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls

NASA's Administrator Jim Bridentine put out a statement supporting the ’s policy move. “NASA strongly supports the White House’s continued bold direction in forging a sustainable and focused space policy that strengthens American leadership. It was my honor today to represent the agency at the National Space Council, where the President announced Space Policy Directive-3 – which will guide critical and much-needed progress for space traffic management.

“SPD-3 builds on our continued progress implementing SPD-1, which is galvanizing American space leadership by returning to the Moon with commercial and international partners, and SPD-2, which will create regulatory certainty for entrepreneurs to raise capital to grow the American economy in space.

“As we continue to thrive in space, we also have more people launching to orbit, and an increasingly complex universe of satellites overhead,” Bridentine states. “SPD-3 provides guidelines and initiatives to ensure that America is a leader in providing a safe and secure environment as space traffic increases. Common sense space situational awareness and traffic management will be good for our economy and will help provide a more stable environment for the burgeoning space economy.

The latest space directive will seek to reduce orbital debris and manage space traffic by new sharing initiatives. "The Department of Commerce will make space safety data and services available to the public, while the Department of Defense maintains the authoritative catalogue of space objects," White House documents show.

“Reducing the growing threat of orbital debris is in the interest of all nations, and NASA looks forward to working with the National Space Council, the Department of Commerce and other partners on a path forward," Bridentine states. "SPD-3 and the directives that preceded it, along with the President’s enthusiasm for our nation’s innovative work, are providing a strong foundation for our nation to once again do the big things that will shape a bright future for all of us in space.”

More importantly, the directive seeks to expand leadership "in space by increasing its capabilities and developing standards and best practices." This will consequently improve situational awareness data standards and information sharing. It will also "streamline processes and reduce regulatory burdens that inhibit commercial growth, enabling the U.S. commercial sector to lead the world in space," White House documents state.

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