The debate is over.
US Vice President Mike Pence laid out an ambitious plan on Thursday (Friday NZ Time) that would create a military command dedicated to space this year and eventually establish a "Space Force" as the sixth branch of the US military.
"Initially the Department will recommend that the Air Force Space Command commander be dual-hatted as commander of the unified command", the report said. And Russia is working on an airborne laser to disrupt space-based systems, he added.
But the move has faced some signs of skepticism from the Defense Department.
"Now is not the time to rip the Air Force apart".
Pence acknowledged that creating a new branch "is not simple process".
Should it be approved, the Space Force would mark the first time a branch has been added to the military since 1947, when the Air Force was created following World War II. "But if the White House gets its way, in this special case, there will be a Space Force".
He also addressed key points in the Defense Department's upcoming report on on the matter, such as forming an elite group of fighters specialized to operate in the domain as well as a space command operation. Rep. Mike Rogers, an Alabama Republican, and Jim Cooper, a Democrat from Tennessee, said in a joint statement that they had been warning for years about the need to beef up military capabilities in space.
But he, too, isn't convinced that a Space Force is the answer. It notes that "presidential leadership and congressional support have set the environment for dramatic improvement of our national space capabilities".
The Pentagon is laying the groundwork for a future Space Force, moving closer to an order from President Trump earlier this summer to create a sixth branch of the armed forces.
"We have the direction from the president, and we're underway", Mattis said Tuesday.
Still, the proposal faces an uncertain fate in Congress, particularly if Democrats capture either the House or Senate in November elections. It joined the Army, Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard.
Pence portrayed the change as a response to foes' potential aggression rather than any offensive US military effort. Next year's budget will seek funding and authorization for the venture.
The vice president insisted that the force, which the administration hopes to have in place by 2020, would "not be built from scratch", but draw from the men and women who are already running America's space programs.
Pence said the creation of a new Space Force is "not a simple process" and said the Trump Administration will create a new civilian position to oversee the growth and expansion of the force, an Assistant Secretary of Defense for Space who will report directly to the Secretary of Defense.
According to the Washington Post, the first of these steps is to establish a U.S. Space Command.
Congress' most ardent proponents of a separate service for space commended Pence's remarks.