One of humanity’s greatest achievements was to go from a teetering aircraft at Kitty Hawk to a man on the moon in just a few decades. For most of that time and since, space has been a place of exploration, wonder, and yes, the serious and expensive nationalistic space race. Not war.
President Donald Trump does not seem as enamored of our peaceful galactic achievements. Last week, Vice President Mike Pence announced the administration’s intention to create a new branch of the military — a Space Force — as early as 2020.
Space Force proponents argue convincingly that countries already are angling to use space for strategic advantage. Modern warfare and so much else in contemporary life are guided by satellites orbiting the globe. It would be unwise to ignore necessary defenses. The Department of Defense already has members on that mission.
Defenses can always be improved. But it is disheartening to hear Trump and Pence talk of space as a “war-fighting” domain where “we must have American dominance.”
That’s all well and good for an entertaining movie franchise or three. But peace in space is not a game. It has been the norm since we first darted past gravity, preventing heavenly exploration from becoming just another way for humans to rain down havoc upon one another. The peace is worth keeping.