Congressman Proposes A Military 'Space Corps'
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LULU GARCIA-NAVARRO, HOST:
This is Lulu's log - stardate June 25th, 2017, where we consider matters of space, the stars and the universe.
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GARCIA-NAVARRO: There could be a new branch of the United States military in the near future, and its mandate will be outer space. It's not called Starfleet like "Star Trek," sadly. It's been named Space Corps.
And joining us now to talk about the Space Corps is Congressman Mike Rogers of Alabama. He sponsored legislation seeking its formation. Welcome.
MIKE ROGERS: Thanks for having me.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: Sir, why do we need a Space Corps? What threats do you see it defending us from?
ROGERS: Well, clearly, we've got some very serious, aggressive behavior by both the Chinese and the Russians in space. They have realized that that's a great equalizer if they can get good at it, and they're getting good at it fast. Unfortunately, we've become, just like every other war-fighting country, very dependent on space. But the truth is, it's not just our military; our country has become very reliant on space. Anybody that has a handheld iPhone or other device, that device is using space.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: Because of satellites.
ROGERS: Satellites. So the Russians and Chinese have realized that if they can take our eyes and ears out, which is what our satellites are, they might actually be able to compete or have an advantage against us.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: What would the Space Corps actually look like? Would there be uniformed officers? What could this evolve into?
ROGERS: The problem is 90 percent of space in our military is in the Air Force. So what we're basically going to be doing is taking the current infrastructure - for example, Space Command in Colorado Springs will become the headquarters for the Space Corps. We're talking about taking the people that we need to take that deal with space and segregating them into a culture that appreciates them.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: The Air Force has pushed back on this. The Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson said, quote, "the Pentagon is complicated enough. This will make it more complex, add more boxes to the organization chart and cost more money." Is she wrong?
ROGERS: She's absolutely wrong. The bureaucracy is always going to fight reform - always, especially the Pentagon. They're fighting this because they don't want Congress meddling. You know, what I've told her is, in 16 years, the Air Force has not changed a thing. And they've got us in this situation now where Russia and China have become near peers. They're close to surpassing us. What we're proposing would change that.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: I think what some people would say is that we are cooperating with the Russians on the International Space Station. Should space be the new frontier of warfare, or should it actually be a place where, indeed, these cooperations flourish? After all, we are all on one planet.
ROGERS: You know, it'd be nice if we could all hold hands and hug each other and sing "Kumbaya" and it be like that. But fact is, whether we like it or not, our country and virtually every other country in the world has become heavily dependent on satellites. So it's natural that you're going to see warfighting move up into that domain.
We've got to stay ahead of that. Now, hopefully, if we're smart and effective at this, it will have a chilling effect on anybody wanting to try and go there because that's one of the things that we have found keeps war at bay, is when you're the biggest, baddest cat on the block. Nobody wants to bother with you. We are not maintaining that status when it comes to space like we are terrestrially.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: Congressman Mike Rogers of Alabama, thank you so much for joining us.
ROGERS: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.