Foreign Policy Digital

Trump’s Space Force Gets the Final Frontier All Wrong

A new space race may be on, but the United States should opt for peaceful exploration rather than military presence.

Just before Valentine’s Day last month, NASA made one final call to Opportunity, the little Mars rover that had been trekking across the red planet since it arrived in 2004. The space agency lost contact with the robotic explorer in June 2018 during a massive planetary dust storm and had been attempting to reconnect with it ever since. To no avail: “With a sense of deep appreciation and gratitude,” NASA officials declared on February 13 that Opportunity was dead and its mission was over.

Americans from former President Barack Obama on down bid a fond farewell to what Wired called “the hardest-working robot in the solar system.” Indeed, it had lasted almost 15 years despite being designed to have a life span of just three months. Opportunity is survived on Mars by two other American robotic explorers: fellow rover Curiosity and the recently arrived InSight lander.

Less than a week after NASA’s announcement, U.S. President Donald Trump issued , which formally established the United States Space Force as a new branch of the U.S. military. During the Trump administration’s yearlong public campaign supporting the creation of a Space Force, it repeatedly forged dangerous rhetorical links between to ensure “that we have the security in space to advance human space exploration.”

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