‘Space Force’ legislation moves forward

The United States Space Force protects U.S. and allies’ interests in Space. Photo courtesy: U.S. Dept of Defense

Florida state Senator Danny Burgess, R-Tampa, has filed a bill that would give the United States Space Force a legitimate place in state law. Senate Bill 438 will be a revision of “uniformed service” to include the Space Force among the other branches of the military.

The USSF was declared the official sixth branch of the U.S. military in December 2019 with the signing of the 2020 National Defense Authorization Act. The Air Force Space Command mission was redesignated as the Space Force. Since the second world war, lawmakers have been pushing for a new branch that would protect the interests of the U.S. in space. According to the Space Force website, approximately 16,000 military and civilian personnel work on the country’s space missions.

These service members are called “guardians.”

Florida is home to two space force bases, but state law does not support them. When Burgess proposed SB 488, he received some uncanny jokes and criticism from his colleagues. State Rep. Tyler Sirous, R-Merritt Island, has a similar bill proposed in the Florida House (HB 465).

Staff Sergeant Sashauna Harriott with the Air Force Reserves says that having the space mobility is helpful for the U.S.

“It is another branch that allows us to have superiority over any threats being made from different parts of the world,” Harriott said.

Harriot says the Air Force provides the Space Force with materials to operate and manpower for their operations such as launching pads and launch pad bases.

Although many airmen were recruited to join the Space Force, the mission of protecting the U.S. and its orbital networks falls mostly on the Space Force. The administration requested a budget of $17.5 billion for space defense in 2022, according to the Center for Space Policy and Strategy.

Capt. Charles Ruffin, a Space Operations Officer for the USSF, says the guardians serve to protect a critical infrastructure for everyday life along with the other branches.

“We provide missile warning, missile defense, situational awareness, defense to critical infrastructure that support those systems that provide services to the U.S. such as global GPS navigation,” Ruffin said. “The same men who were during the operations as airmen are now doing them as guardians.”

Gov. Ron DeSantis had hoped to land the command headquarters in Florida. Cape Canaveral Space Force base and Patrick Space Force base were converted from Air Force bases. There are several Space Force assets in Florida and guardians are granted space launch capabilities.

“These installations provide great support to our national defense and provide a significant economic impact to our state. Equally important as our military installations, is Florida’s robust commercial space industry,” DeSantis said in a letter addressed to Air Force Asst. Secretary John Henderson.

A Senate committee approved SB 438, which shall take effect July 1, 2022, if approved by both chambers.