Features and Columns · TV

The Real Story Behind ‘Space Force’

Let’s explore the crazy government program that inspired the new Netflix series.
Space Force
By  · Published on May 21st, 2020

Like many of you, I laughed when Donald Trump announced plans for a special United States military branch dedicated to fighting wars in space. I even wrote a list of fictional commanders who’d be well-suited for the space warfare. However, Steve Carell and Greg Daniels decided to take the spotlight away from my list by creating a workplace comedy about the creation of the president’s intergalactic dream project.

Not only that, but they actually went ahead and made the show. Netflix recently dropped a trailer for Space Force and it looks pretty good. I’m still convinced that political comedy in the age of Trump is dead because nothing is more of a laughing stock than the Commander-in-Chief himself. Fortunately, this trailer suggests that there will be more to this show than poking fun at the president’s initiative, even though that plays a part as well.


Trump unveiled plans for a Space Force in 2018. The branch became official on December 20, 2019, when its funding was signed into law. In simple terms, Space Force is the sixth branch of the United States military — the first new branch to emerge since 1947 — and its purpose is to work towards establishing the country’s dominance beyond the stars.

Prior to Space Force’s creation, all space-related operations were handled by the United States Air Force, but those duties will be inherited by the new military arm. The purpose behind Space Force is to have a hub that consolidates all of the United States’ space interests in one place, and response to it has been mixed, to say the least.

Critics of Space Force believe that the branch is unnecessary and too costly. The Air Force Association is against the project, claiming that it will do more harm than good. Instead of breaking up the Air Force, the organization has called for a rebranding that will encompass all aerospace duties.

On the flip side of the coin, supporters of Space Force believe that there needs to be more focus on space activities. According to these proponents, space technology is important to America’s interests, so there should be a specific operation that receives as much focus as the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard.

Supporters also believe that it’s necessary for America’s defense interests. Dean Cheng, a senior researcher for The Heritage Foundation’s Davis Institute for National Security and Foreign Policy, said that the next conflict will involve space technology, and it’s important for the United States to be “living, eating, breathing, sleeping space.” To do that, a specific branch is essential.

The creation of Space Force has been viewed as a reaction to the space developments of other countries. When Trump said he wanted the United States to be dominant in space, he meant not allowing potential enemies to overtake the Land of the Free. In 2015, Russia created the Russian Aerospace Forces, which was set up with militaristic intentions as well. That same year, China unveiled the PLA Strategic Support Force, combining all electronic, cyber, and space warfare forces into a single branch.

That said, recent moves to instate military strongholds in space isn’t entirely new. In 1985, during the Cold War, Ronald Reagan’s administration proposed a space-based American weapons system in an effort to prevent other countries from launching nuclear missiles at the United States. Reagan’s plan was also mocked, with satirists comparing the idea to Star Wars.

Unlike Reagan’s space plans, though, Space Force is moving ahead and officers have been recruited. This year’s Air Force Academy graduate class saw several members immediately join the new branch, where they’ll work alongside the thousands of employees who moved over from the Air Force’s Space Command.

Furthermore, missions have already commenced. On March 26th, Space Force sent a communications satellite into orbit, followed by a space plane on May 17th. The plane has been a secret United States military project for years, having previously carried out missions for the Air Force. But this marks its first quest under the Space Force umbrella, and its purpose is still unknown to everyone outside of the military and government.

It’s easy to mock Space Force. It has the same name as a ‘70s TV movie starring Fred Willard (who also co-stars in the new series) and the logo is reminiscent of the Starfleet Academy’s badge from Star Trek. But it’s happening, and ungodly amounts of money will be invested into the branch for generations to come. Perhaps this will eventually lead to the discovery of new lifeforms and planets. Maybe it’ll turn the galaxy into a battlefield. For now, we have a Netflix series courtesy of the people who made The Office, and that much is certain.

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Kieran is a Contributor to the website you're currently reading. He also loves the movie Varsity Blues.