U.S. Space Force Primer

This primer report was originally published on Thursday, December 22, 2022.

Founded on December 20, 2019, the United States Space Force (USSF) became the sixth branch of the armed services within the Department of Defense (DOD). Officially established by Congress in the Fiscal Year 2020 National Defense Authorization Act, the USSF garnered bipartisan support.

Organized within the Department of the Air Force, the USSF functions at an equal level as the U.S. Air Force, similar to how the U.S. Marine Corps is structured within the Department of the Navy. Under Title 10, Section 9081, of the U.S. Code, the USSF has the responsibility to organize, train, and equip space-focused military forces. Specifically, the USSF is responsible for space launch, satellite operations, surveillance of the space environment, satellite defense, and some missile defense functions. Previously, space forces and missions were scattered throughout the DOD. With the establishment of the USSF, the DOD envisions consolidating all or many of these missions, forces, and authorities within the purview of the USSF. The USSF will then provide space support to other branches of the armed forces.

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Kari A. Bingen
Director, Aerospace Security Project and Senior Fellow, International Security Program