The United States appears on track to get a Space Force — or a Space something, at least.
On Wednesday morning, the House Armed Services Committee (HASC) began debating and revising the 2020 National Defense Authorization Act, the legislation that sets the military’s defense policies and budget for the year.
Before the end of the 21-hour-long session, they decided that the U.S. does need a new military branch focused on protecting its interests in space — but that it should be called the Space Corps instead of the name President Donald Trump wanted: Space Force.
The name change came as part of an amendment presented by Strategic Forces Subcommittee chairman Jim Cooper (D-Tenn) and Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Ala.) and approved unanimously by the panel.
Per the amendment, a 4-star commandant appointed by the President and confirmed by the Senate will lead the Space Corps, which will be nestled under the Department of the Air Force. Its purpose will be to “protect the interests of the United States in space; deter aggression in, from, and to space, and conduct space operations.”
“It is not a $13 billion expenditure, a gold-plated plan like had been proposed to us by the secretary of the Air Force,” Cooper told The Washington Times. “It is instead a reorganization so that space professionals can be properly recognized for their skill and ability and promoted.”
What’s in a Name?
In the next few weeks, the HASC-approved 2020 NDAA will go up for a vote in the entire House of Representatives, while a version of the 2020 NDAA recently approved by the Senate Armed Services Committee will go up for a vote in the Senate.
The Senate version approves the creation of a Space Force, so at some point, members of Congress will need to reconcile the language difference between the two NDAAs.
But semantics aside, one thing appears clear: U.S. lawmakers recognize space as a military battleground of the future.
READ MORE: House Armed Services Committee votes to create a U.S. Space Corps [SpaceNews]
More on space warfare: New Book: The US Is in a “Shadow War.” Space Is the Battlefield.