At Tuesday’s briefing, Psaki was asked if Biden had made any decisions on the future of the Space Force, which was established by Congress in December 2019 with support from the Trump administration.
“Wow. Space Force. It’s the plane of today,” Psaki responded, seemingly comparing the question to an earlier one about the color scheme of Air Force One. “It is an interesting question. I am happy to check with our Space Force point of contact. I’m not sure who that is. I will find out and see if we have any update on that.”
Rep. Michael Waltz (R-Fla.) also slammed the White House for Psaki’s comments on the Space Force, which Waltz said was established to protect national security and economic space missions from Chinese threats.
“This is just another example of the Biden administration not taking China seriously while demeaning the incredible work of Space Force personnel,” said Waltz, who is a founding member of the House Space Force Caucus.
After the angry reactions, Psaki later tweeted: “We look forward to the continuing work of Space Force and invite the members of the team to come visit us in the briefing room anytime to share an update on their important work.”
A Space Force spokesperson declined to comment.
Experts widely believe the Biden administration will maintain the Space Force, because it would take action on Capitol Hill to eliminate the branch.
America’s national security space mission became politicized under former President Donald Trump, a supporter of the Space Force who would talk about the new branch at political rallies, eliciting cheers from supporters. The service soon become fodder for Hollywood and inspired a Netflix series starring Steve Carell in which an inept president sends space troops to fight Chinese counterparts on the lunar surface.
The service was not established to send armed personnel into orbit, or to colonize the solar system. Instead, Space Force personnel, who were recently named “guardians,” operate the nation’s GPS and missile warning satellites with their boots firmly on the Earth.
Trump got the Space Force across the finish line, but rarely acknowledged that a bipartisan group of lawmakers had proposed a similar reorganization of military space missions into a Space Corps in 2017. Rep. Jim Cooper (D-Tenn.), one of the early supporters of the Space Corps idea, said last week at a POLITICO Live event that he hopes the new branch can escape the politics that surround it.
“I hope my fellow Democrats will not be too discouraged by the taint that former President Trump put on the Space Force when he tried to hijack it for his own political purposes because the Space Force was really originated on an entirely bipartisan basis way before Trump was elected president, way before he noticed the shiny object that caught his attention,” Cooper said.
The Secure World Foundation, a nonprofit organization focused on sustainable space use, also listed improving the Space Force’s public relations campaign and clarifying its mission to the American public as a top job for the Biden administration in a December report.