WASHINGTON — Gen. John Hyten, the U.S. military’s second highest-ranking officer who spent most of his career in space operations, looks forward to watching “Space Force,” the upcoming Netflix comedy series.

“It’s going to be great,” Hyten said Jan. 29 during a breakfast meeting on Capitol Hill hosted by the Air Force Association.

Hyten has been vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff since November and serves as a senior adviser to the secretary of defense and the president. But he remains especially focused on space and on the standup of the U.S. Space Force as a separate branch under the Air Force, which he had strongly advocated. “Space is my passion,” he said. “I’ve been behind the scenes working space issues constantly.”

Since President Trump called for the creation of a Space Force in June 2018, the military’s sixth branch has been mocked and criticized. Hyten said the jokes and satire should be viewed as an opportunity to raise public awareness of the issue of space as a national security concern.

Hyten said the Netflix ‘Space Force’ series will be more than just entertainment. “It puts that issue in front of people and people start paying attention,” he said.

According to Netflix, the series will be about a group of “people tasked with creating a sixth branch of the armed services” known as the Space Force.

Hyten said he experienced the military’s own version of Space Force humor during the USO’s New Year Tour when he joined other top officials and entertainers at Mihail Kogalniceanu Air Base in Romania.

“One of the cool things I get to do as vice chairman is travel with the USO to visit troops,” he said. In one of the skits in Romania, comedians came onstage dressed in Space Force uniforms made of aluminum foil that had $14 million price tags on them. “The helmet cost $20 million,” Hyten said. “And they do a whole skit on Space Force, making fun of us right and left, the whole nine yards,” he said.”The soldiers were loving it. I love that.”

Hyten said he looks forward to the Netflix show “but I want them to get the technical stuff right,” he insisted. “If you’re a space guy, all you care is that you get the technical stuff right. Just do that and we’ll be fine.”

His advice to the real U.S. Space Force is to embrace the moment and make it a bridge to conversation. “Space is important not because it’s funny. It’s important because it’s deadly serious,” said Hyten. The attention it’s getting in the pop culture world “allows us the opportunity for us to stand in front of people and say, ‘you understand this is actually a warfighting domain,’” he said. “We have threats in space that we have to deal with. These are not Powerpoint threats. We have adversaries that are going faster.”

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...