I Don’t Know About This


As part of its version of the 2018 Defense authorization bill, the House Armed Services Committee voted late Wednesday night to create a sixth branch of the U.S. armed forces: the U.S. Space Corps, which would absorb the Air Force’s current space missions.

I’m really ambivalent about this. On the one hand, especially given the institutional culture of the USAF, a separate “Space Corps” would probably be a good thing. Particularly, as I’ve said a bunch of times before, the flight crews should be submariners, due to the long experience that the US Navy has in operating in the hostile environment that is the sea. Remember: “When your airplane breaks, you bail out and get another one. When your submarine breaks, you die.” This is a vital distinction when operating in space. And let’s face it: so long as Space Command is a USAF institution, that’s never going to happen.

OTOH, there are downsides. First off, as a sci-fi geek, I can easily see this ending up as the progenitor of Star Trek’s Federation of Planets, or Firefly’s Alliance. That’s not going to be good in the long run. Secondly, we already have a bloated and inefficient Federal agency tasked with space flight: NA$A. And the most likely outcome of this proposed “US Space Corps” is another NA$A, but with uniforms. Not only duplication of effort, but let’s not forget the start up costs: facilities, special uniforms, perhaps even some silly new rank structure. And that’s just for starters. And each and every year, there will be a freshly minted army of lobbyists, begging for more and more of our tax dollars.

I’m sure there’s a place for military-based space ops. But it would be far better to combine Space Command and NA$A, and have the classified stuff be compartmentalized to keep the necessary secret stuff secret. And then take the savings and give it off to the private companies, who are clearly doing a better job at this point at this. Yeah, it’s still our taxes being used, but right now I’m thinking that it’s a necessary evil. As more and more people become convinced that going Elsewhere is both doable and needed, subsidies will shrink. And if we’re ever going to get truly independent settlements, those Gummint dollars need to stop.

5 Responses to “I Don’t Know About This”

  1. Jeffersonian says:



    Can you forget.


    Proper treatment of this problem:

    “There’s a lot of spec-fic fans in the military. When Apollo Twenty-one burned up during reentry, they raised so much hell that Congress took the manned space program away from NASA and gave it to the Navy.”

    “Admiral Heinlein doesn’t let the Soviets build spacecraft.”

  2. Dan says:

    This is just grandstanding by the AF to squeze even more $$$ out of brain dead congresscriters (the kind of morons who worry about the island of Guam ‘tipping over’ if we put too many servicemen there). There’s no point in having a ‘space corp’ at his point in time because we do not have a PRACTICAL means of putting meaningful numbers of people or a meaningful amount of material into orbit let alone REAL outer space ( meaning beyond the geostationary orbit altitude of 23K miles).

  3. Jeffersonian says:

    Dan, Elon Musk, Robert Bigelow, et. al, will hopefully solve those problems, or at least knock big holes in them, within our lifetimes. Many cans of worms will be opened, but that’s fine too:

    “…[T]he boisterous sea of liberty is never without a wave.” – Thomas Jefferson, letter to Richard Rush, 20 October 1820

  4. Dan says:

    Musk and Bigelow have money ( most of Musk’s is actually tax dollars he conned .gov into giving to him) but money can’t change the laws of physics.
    For every pound of mass you want to put in to low earth orbit you need roughly 9.5 pounds of fuel. The cost per pound was roughly $10K for the now defunct space shuttle. For other methods the costs can run between $40K and $50K per pound. So until we find another means to climb out of Earth’s gravity well we will NEVER put meaningful amounts of material or people into space. And to date NO TECHNOLOGY exists that is even REMOTELY viable for that role.

  5. Jeffersonian says:

    “Man will never fly.”

    “Man will never break the sound barrier.”

    “Man will never walk on the moon.”

    “No one will ever need more than 640k of RAM.”

    And of course,

    “Donald Trump will never be President.”