Calling it a landmark moment, President Donald Trump established U.S. Space Command on Thursday.
He said the new command recognizes the centrality of space to America’s national security and defense.
“SPACECOM will defend America’s vital interests in space, the next warfighting domain,” Trump said. “I think that’s pretty obvious to everybody. It’s all about space.”
The president directed Secretary of Defense Mark Esper to sign the documents setting up the nation’s 11th combatant command. Trump, Vice President Mike Pence and Gen. John “Jay” Raymond stood by as Esper signed SPACECOM back into existence.
At his first press conference Wednesday, Esper affirmed his support for the new command.
“We must apply the necessary focus, energy and resources to the task. That is exactly what the command will do,” he said. “As a unified command, the United States Space Command is the next crucial step toward the creation of an independent Space Force as an additional armed service — an independent additional armed service.”
The command is seen as a first step to Trump’s Space Force, which is awaiting congressional approval.
“SpaceCom will soon be followed ... by the establishment of the Space Force as the sixth branch of the United States armed forces,” Trump said at the ceremony.
The House and Senate has language for Space Force in their annual defense bills. The differences will be reconciled when Congress returns from recess next month.
Raymond will lead the command, which will temporarily be headquartered at Peterson Air Force Base.
Raymond thanked the president on behalf of the members of SPACECOM.
Republican Rep. Doug Lamborn, who represents Colorado Springs, congratulated the administration on the decision to house the new command temporarily at Peterson.
The entire Colorado congressional delegation signed a letter to acting Secretary of the Air Force Matthew Donovan touting the state as ideal permanent home for the command.
California and Alabama are also under consideration as possible command locations.
Until a decision is made, the new command will stay at Peterson, with additional personnel and functions at Schriever AFB — just east of Peterson outside of Colorado Springs — Offutt AFB, Nebraska, and Vandenberg AFB, California.
Peterson was headquarters of the previous Space Command, which was shuttered in 2002.