President Donald Trump ordered the creation of a United States Space Command in a memo to Secretary of Defense James Mattis Tuesday, establishing an authority to organize the military’s efforts in space.
Vice President Mike Pence announced the move at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
“At President Trump’s direction, the U.S. Space Command will integrate space capabilities across all branches of the military,” said Pence. “It will develop the space doctrine, tactics, techniques, and procedures that will enable our warfighters to defend our nation in this new era.”
The Space Command is separate from Trump’s goal of developing Space Force—a sixth military branch dedicated to space operations—although it will likely aid in the branch’s creation.
“The Space Force will serve as a force provider for personnel, assets, and capabilities supporting space operations while Space Command will serve as the operational command that will employ space capabilities and lead space operations,” Deputy Secretary of Defense Patrick M. Shanahan tweeted Tuesday.
According to the Associated Press, the Space Command could cost up to $800 million over the next five years, with most of this covering the hiring of at least 1,000 new staff. Around 600 more will be pulled from existing military offices already dedicated to space-related work. A four-star general will lead the command.
A United States Space Command isn’t a new idea: One was founded under President Ronald Reagan in 1985, but was closed in 2002, when its mission was consolidated into that of the United States Strategic Command. The move left the longstanding Air Force Space Command as the lead in space efforts.