You keep waiting for someone to look into the camera and excitedly announce, “Live from New York, it’s Saturday night!” 

You keep waiting for someone to look into the camera and excitedly announce, “Live from New York, it’s Saturday night!” Or, maybe your realize you’re reading not a literally true story, but another humorous, satirical tale courtesy of the popular online publication known as The Onion. Or, maybe, you’re just waiting for someone to shout, “April Fools!” but then you realize that April came and went a few months ago.

    Yes, it’s real. President Donald Trump wants to launch “Space Force.” No, it’s not the latest installment in a blockbuster superhero film franchise, and it’s also not a movie in which humans in space encounter aliens and hilarity and/or battle ensues. You won’t find Space Force promoted on a big plastic cup of pop that you get with your Whopper at Burger King.

    Space Force is really real. In case you thought Trump had put it on the backburner, Vice President Mike Pence last week stood behind a podium on stage to tout the need for and the importance of launching the defense initiative that, you probably figured out by now, is based is space. If it becomes reality – there’s talk of having it in place as soon as 2020 – it would be the sixth branch of the U.S. military. Trump is eager for a logo to be designed, and he wants to start selling Space Force apparel.

    Detailed cost estimates to launch Space Force have not been publicly discussed yet, but you can bet that if even a fraction of Space Force ever becomes reality, the price will double. Maybe even triple. Can we get a quadruple? It’s going to be a cash-sucking machine, this Space Force.

    Yes, much of what the U.S. military is able to accomplish depends on critical satellite technology. And, yes, America’s adversaries would certainly like to capitalize on any opportunity to get a leg up outside the Earth’s atmosphere. But this is not a top priority, and shouldn’t be treated as such. The Air Force already has a “Space Command” after all, so why not just fortify that or kick it up a notch?

    Critics of Space Force are quick to point out the absurdity of spending countless billions on space-based defense while the Trump Administration insists on cutting funding for things that a more logical person might think are higher priorities at this particular point in time, things like education, healthcare, the future of the planet.

    But what opponents of Space Force are being less vocal about so far is Space Force being less about protecting the United States from an enemy attack from outside the protective confines of our atmosphere, and more about further lining the pockets of defense contractors with mountains of money. Keep in mind, that’s on top of the billions of dollars defense contractors get from the government for defense spending that goes beyond even what the Pentagon puts on its wish list.

    Our nation has problems right outside our front doors, in our neighborhoods, towns, cities, states, in Washington, D.C., on our borders, and across the globe. Is it too much to ask that we sensibly prioritize and address some of those before something like Space Force becomes more than a late night TV talk show monologue punch line?

– Mike Christopherson