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Donald Trump establishes US Space Command, says space to be 'next war-fighting domain'

File photo: US President Donald Trump. Photograph:( AFP )

Reuters Washington DC Aug 30, 2019, 08.47 AM (IST)

US President Donald Trump established on Thursday the United States Space Command, a program that was first established during the height of the Cold War.

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Trump announced in the Rose Garden, flanked by US Vice President Mike Pence, Defense Secretary Mike Esper and the newly appointed head of Space Command, US Air Force General John Raymond.

Trump said Space Command would "defend America's vital interests in space, the next war-fighting domain."

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"Our adversaries are weaponizing Earth's orbits with new technology targeting American satellites that are critical to both battlefield operations and our way of life at home. Our freedom to operate in space is also essential to detecting and destroying any missile launched against the United States," said Trump.

Space Command was originally established in 1985 by the Air Force to coordinate defense efforts amid the Cold War. In 2002, Space Command was merged into the unified Strategic Command to focus on the US-led invasion of Afghanistan.

Trump added that Space Command would be followed by the establishment of the Space Force, " the sixth branch of the United States Armed Forces," he said. 

Creating a new military branch requires congressional approval and the House and Senate are expected to take up the issue when they return from their August recess.

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The command is separate from Trump's promise of creating a Space Force, which would be the sixth branch of the military.