ARLINGTON, Va. — Department of the Air Force Secretary, Barbara M. Barrett, offered an upbeat assessment Oct. 28 of the Space Force’s development while also describing in stark terms how the shifting security environment in space is validating the nation’s newest branch of the military.
“Increasingly, free and open access to space is under threat. Though the United States will not be the aggressor in space, we will, we must, build a Space Force to defend our space interests,” Barrett said in a virtual address at Space Symposium 365, an influential gathering of space advocates from government, commerce and defense sponsored by the Space Foundation.
Barrett, who was joined by Chief of Space Operations, Gen. John “Jay” Raymond, underscored that assertion by highlighting activities and threats in space that in the past had been given less emphasis.
“Last year, Russia maneuvered an ‘inspector satellite’ into an orbit threateningly close to a sensitive U.S. satellite. And just two months ago, China launched and recovered a reusable space plane … suspiciously similar to our own space plane, the X-37B.”
That environment, and the fact that space is becoming more crowded and contested, coincide with the creation of the first new and independent branch of the military since 1947. Together, Barrett and Raymond provided a detailed status report on the Space Force as it approaches its first anniversary and looks to the future.
“We set out for this first year to invent the force. And I use that term ‘invent’ purposefully because we were given an opportunity to start with a clean sheet of paper and not do business the way we’ve done in the past,” Raymond said, describing the Space Force as “purpose built” to meet its missions and responsibilities in space.