Space Corps proposal will “figure” itself out, Wilson says

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Updated 8:40 p.m. Eastern with clarified headline and first paragraph to better reflect Air Force Secretary Wilson’s comments.

WASHINGTON — The current Congressional proposal to create a special Space Corps to lead U.S security programs for that realm still remains in limbo for now, said Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson.

Addressing the proposal Sept. 12 during a panel discussion on space hosted by Politico, Wilson said simply, “That’ll sort itself out.”

A big proponent for the creation of a Space Corps — a special unit within the Air Force similar in structure to the Marine Corps to focus on space operations and acquisition — is Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Ala.), the chairman of the House Armed Services Committee Subcommittee on Strategic Forces.

A Space Corps would be a better steward of space matters than the Air Force would be, Rogers said Sept. 6 during a keynote speech at a Center for Strategic and International Studies conference, because there would be no competing interests as there are now with space falling under the Air Force structural umbrella.

The Air Force’s inability to put space first, he said, has created acquisition and operational problems.

But several former Air Force officials at the conference contended the service should, and can, be the entity that controls most of space national security programs, without the need for a special, separate space organization. Instead, what’s needed is more time for the service to further develop and implement the recent operational concepts for warfighting in space recently detailed by Space Command.

Those concepts could become increasingly important, Air Force supporters note, as space becomes more crowded.

“Space will become more congested,” Wilson said at the Politico event, “and potentially more contested. Space will become more like the ocean. There will be more players – some of them private.”

Within another half-century or so, she said, space will be a more common region for “human endeavor.”

There are two reasons, she said, for this increased congestion and competition: the decline of launch costs and the miniaturization of the payloads.

These two trends, she said, has enabled “more players to do more things.”

And, as the world powers have done over the centuries on the seas, she said, global leaders will a push to develop “common partnerships” and agreements in space and the emergence of allies “who will protect freedoms.”

There is much to protect, she said, even now.

For example, people around the globe rely on data provided by Global Positioning System satellites. “We provide GPS for one billion people every day,” she said. “This is a service, almost a utility, provided by the Air Force.”