Vice President Mike Pence on Tuesday justified the creation of a "space force" with a series of economic arguments for undertaking a project that still must receive the green light from Congress.
Pence said at Fort McNair in Washington that the administration wants near-term future defense spending to include "language that authorizes the establishment of the United States Space Force, and a department as the sixth branch of the service" so that "America remains as dominant in spacemilitarily as we are here on Earth."
Pence, speaking surrounded by top government officials, said that in recent months the administration has been "working closely" both with lawmakers and with assorted government departments and agencies to create this new branch of the Armed Forces, as directed by President Donald Trump in June.
"Today, space is fundamentally different than it was a generation ago," said Pence at the meeting at the National Defense University in Washington. "It is the cost of inaction that we can't afford."
He added that currently "thousands" of officials and contractors are working on the project to create the Space Force.
Transportation Secretary Elain Chao, who is part of the National Space Council, announced on Tuesday that her department is considering providing licensing to "simplify" the process of launching spacecraft and returning them to Earth.
The launch license would also enable companies to send payloads into space from different sites, and would facilitate the development of the aerospace industry, Chao said.
Under Secretary of Commerce Karen Dunn Kelley commented along the same lines, revealing that her department last week presented to Congress a bill to create an office of space commerce, calling it a necessary showcase for the industry.
She added that this kind of measure will empower a market that currently is valued at an estimated $400 billion per year but which could increase significantly.
NASA administrator Jim Bridestine, meanwhile, added his voice to the issue, saying that the Space Force is vital for preserving all the necessary infrastructure for scientific exploration and improving people's lives via commercial space activities.