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Pence: US Space Command Will Launch Next Week

Vice President Mike Pence speaks during the sixth meeting of the National Space Council beneath NASA's Space Shuttle Discovery at the National Air and Space Museum's Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, Va., Aug. 20, 2019.

The United States will get a step closer to establishing a space force next week.

Vice President Mike Pence and Pentagon officials told the National Space Council on Tuesday the U.S. Space Command will officially be up and running Aug. 29. Creation of the new command is seen as a likely step toward the creation of a space force as a separate military entity.

"The United States Space Force will ensure that our nation is prepared to defend our people, defend our interests, and to defend our values in the vast expanse of space and here on Earth with the technologies that will support our common defense for the vast reaches of outer space," Pence said.

Pence said setting up the command still needs congressional funding and authority, but he said he expects that to happen soon.

The launch of the Space Command will accelerate what has been a decades-long effort to reorganize and improve the military's technological advances in space, which at times have gotten less attention as the Air Force has focused on warplanes and other combat priorities.

The military's role in space has been under scrutiny because the United States is increasingly reliant on orbiting satellites that are difficult to protect. Satellites provide communications, navigation, intelligence and other services vital to the military and the national economy.

Over the past year, the issue gained urgency amid growing competition and threats from adversary nations.