Space Force continues to grow during pandemic

Space Science
Atlas V launch Space Force

An Atlas V AEHF-6 rocket successfully launches from Space Launch Complex-41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla., March 26, 2020. The launch of the AEHF-6, a sophisticated communications relay satellite, is the first Department of Defense payload launched for the United States Space Force. (U.S. Air Force photo by Joshua Conti)

MYSTERY WIRE — During this time of uncertainty due to the COVID-19 pandemic and all of the shut-downs which have taken place, the newest branch of the United State’s military continues to grow.

In fact, just in the past month, the Space Force took part in a rocket launch. The United Launch Alliance successfully launched an Atlas V rocket carrying the AEHF-6 military communications satellite for the U.S. Space Force.

According to militarytimes.com, Chief of Space Operations Gen. Jay Raymond as said the biggest hold-up has been officially transitioning the service’s first enlisted member, who will be followed by 16,000 other Air Force personnel by the end of the year.

The Air Force Space Command’s top enlisted airman is currently Chief Master Sgt. Roger Towberman. He was named to the position as only the second member of the Space Force in February, but has yet to be sworn in.

UAL rocket space force
A United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket topped with the AEHF-6 military communications satellite stands at the launch pad ahead of a planned March 26, 2020 liftoff. (Photo: United Launch Alliance)

Along with Towberman, thousands of future Space Force personnel will be based at Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado. And currently, nearby Colorado Springs is under a shelter-in-place order because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

At the beginning of March of this year, space.com reported on a congressional hearing about the Space Force.

Congress gave the lone employee of the United States Space Force quite a grilling this week, but the public still doesn’t know much about the new military branch’s activities.

During a hearing on Wednesday (March 4), members of the House of Representatives’ Committee on Armed Services asked Space Force commander Gen. John Raymond about matters such as launches, reserve forces and future work. In response, Raymond said that he’s building out the Space Force’s capabilities and its workforce, bringing in other people to support him.

Committee chairman Adam Smith, D-Washington, said that he agreed with the assessment, voiced repeatedly recently by U.S. military officials, that new thinking is needed to address a growing capability in space weaponry by any foreign military. But Smith added that he’s not sure if an entire new military branch would necessarily address the problem. 

“Is it just another bureaucracy? Do we get a better, more focused look at how we take care of the needs in national defense?” Smith asked in the 3-hour live-streamed hearing. 

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