ORLANDO, Fla. — More than 60 newly minted officers scheduled to graduate from the U.S. Air Force Academy in May will join the U.S. Space Force.

These graduates will be the first U.S. military officers to be directly commissioned into the Space Force, said Lt. Gen. David “DT” Thompson, vice commander of the Space Force.

From a graduating class of about 1,000, as many as 62 or 63 second lieutenants will go to the Space Force, Thompson told reporters Feb. 27 during the Air Force Association’s winter symposium.

The process by which Air Force Academy cadets decide whether to go to the Air Force or the Space Force will be the same as how midshipmen at the U.S. Naval Academy decide if they’ll join the Navy or the Marine Corps.

The 60-plus members of the class of 2020 who are headed to the Space Force have received their initial assignments as space operations officers. From now on, cadets who choose the space operations career field will be directly commissioned into the Space Force, said Thompson.

He predicts the percentage of academy graduates joining the Space Force will grow as demand increases in the space service for career fields like space intelligence and cyber security.

‘Space Force of one’ no more

The addition of Air Force Academy graduates as actual members of the Space Force means that Chief of Space Operations Gen. John Raymond will no longer be the only officer to wear the official camouflage uniform with the U.S. Space Force name plate on it. Most of the personnel in the Space Force today are detailed from the Air Force.

During a news conference at the AFA symposium, the chief of staff of the Air Force Gen. David Goldfein announced that Chief Master Sgt. Roger Towberman, the Space Force’s top enlisted adviser, will be sworn into the U.S. Space Force in March, becoming its second official member.

Sandra Erwin writes about military space programs, policy, technology and the industry that supports this sector. She has covered the military, the Pentagon, Congress and the defense industry for nearly two decades as editor of NDIA’s National Defense...