Thomas Watkins / Phys.org
US President Donald Trump on Tuesday ordered the creation of “Space Command,” a new organizational structure within the Pentagon that will have overall control of military space operations.
The command will be separate from Trump’s goal to build an entirely new branch of the military called “Space Force,” which has not received approval from Congress.
“I direct the establishment, consistent with United States law, of United States Space Command as a functional Unified Combatant Command,” Trump said in a memo to Defense Secretary Defense Jim Mattis.
Speaking at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida’s Cape Canaveral, Vice President Mike Pence said Space Command would integrate space capabilities across all branches of the military.
Antony Funnell / ABC News
A leading Australian space law expert has warned conflict over space assets is “inevitable”, and more needs to be done now to avert the potential for hostility.
Professor Melissa de Zwart, the Dean of Law at the University of Adelaide, says growing commercial interest in the mining of precious minerals on asteroids and planets has heightened the danger.
“I think you have to be a realist about that,” she said.
“Where you have resources, where you have competition for those resources, where you have investment of money in the extraction of those resources … there will be an expectation of security around that investment.”
While full-scale mining is yet to be tried, there is significant international interest.
Japanese aerospace agency Jaxa has already successfully landed a robotic craft on an asteroid and taken samples. It currently has another probe hovering over an asteroid named Ryugu.