In an surprising announcement, President Trump has ordered the creation of a brand new department of the US navy to make sure “American dominance in area.” The “Area Drive” seems like a campy Saturday morning cartoon, however it may have critical real-world ramifications. Such a navy operation may run afoul of worldwide treaties and trigger an undesirable escalation of worldwide tensions.

The order signed at present doesn’t embrace any specifics on how the Area Drive would function. It merely directs the US Division of Protection to start planning for this new sixth department of the navy. Presumably, this may change the Air Drive Area Command, which presently oversees navy satellites, area communications, and extra.

The present Air Drive Area Command is engaged in non-combat area operations that help navy motion on Earth. For instance, it operates surveillance satellites and processes intelligence on the area operations of different nations. One in all its major objectives is to help the peaceable worldwide use of area by all governments, and it looks as if the Area Drive could be a radically totally different group.

Trump claims the brand new navy department might be a “separate however equal” model of the Air Drive in area. If that’s an correct description, the Area Drive may find yourself in violation of worldwide regulation. Because the area race heated up 50 years in the past, the US, USSR, UK, and greater than 100 different international locations ratified the Outer Area Treaty. This doc goals to restrict the militarization of area.

Apollo 17's Jack Schmitt, raking some lunar soil

Digging is allowed. Taking pictures, not a lot.

The treaty specifies that no weapons of mass destruction be stationed in orbit or on any celestial physique. This imprecise language might be learn to permit non-nuclear weapons like railguns that might be as harmful as small nuclear warheads. Nonetheless, the treaty additionally says that the Moon and different celestial our bodies are solely obtainable for peaceable exploration and use. The Outer Area Treaty expressly prohibits establishing navy bases or conducting navy workout routines on a celestial physique as effectively.

If the Area Drive turns into a actuality, it might both be strictly restricted or be in violation of worldwide regulation. We’d by no means discover out, although. Lawmakers are already talking as much as level out the president can’t unilaterally create a brand new department of the navy. That requires Congressional motion to create and fund such a corporation. The Division of Protection is presently engaged on a report exploring whether or not or not the US ought to have a “area corps.” That report isn’t due out till August.