December 20 is the first birthday of the United States latest branch of the armed services, Space Force; to celebrate, top Trump administration officials are renaming two bases used for space operations, according to a report by Defense One.
According to the report, Patrick Air Force Base will be renamed Patrick Space Force Base and Cape Canaveral Air Force Station will be renamed Cape Canaveral Space Force Station. Both bases regularly launch rockets into space for the U.S. government. The soon-to-be-named Cape Canaveral Space Force Station launched the latest GOES-R and GOES-S weather satellites into space.
The announcement is expected to be made at a ceremony tomorrow with Vice President Mike Pence attending. Deputy Defense Secretary David Norquist, Air Force Secretary Barbara Barrett, Gen. Jay Raymond, the chief of space operations, and Gen. C.Q. Brown, the Air Force chief of staff are also expected to attend. Pence is also scheduled to chair a meeting of the National Space Council at nearby Kennedy Space Center too.
In 2019, President Trump signed the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) on December 20, creating the U.S. Space Force in doing so. As the sixth branch of the U.S. military, it is nested within the Department of the Air Force, much like the Marine Corps is connected to the Department of the Navy. By creating a new, separate service with a dedicated purpose, the intent of the new branch is to maintain space superiority even as space becomes more crowded and contested. The NDAA also directs the Space Force “shall provide the freedom of operation in, from and to space, while providing prompt and sustained space operations.”
Prior to the creation of the Space Force, President Trump also re-created the National Space Council. In June of 2017, the President signed an executive order re-establishing the National Space Council, a space policy advisory body that was last active some 25 years ago. Vice President Pence serves as Chairman of the National Space Council. In December 2017, President Trump issued a directive to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) to send American astronauts back to the moon and eventually to Mars, shifting the agency’s mission from the study of Earth and a longer-range plan to explore Mars. NASA’s mission, separate from the Space Force, is guided in part by the National Space Council.
Beyond the name change, no other changes are expected at these bases. These spaceports will continue to be overseen by the Air Force, which also oversees the Space Force.