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Trump plans to create unified US Space Command

CAPE CANAVERAL, FL - SEPTEMBER 8: In this handout photo provided by NASA, the United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket carrying NASA's Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security-Regolith Explorer (OSIRIS-REx) spacecraft lifts off on from Space Launch Complex 41 on Friday, Sept. 9, 2016 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. OSIRIS-REx will be the first U.S. mission to sample an asteroid, retrieve at least two ounces of surface material and return it to Earth for study. The asteroid, Bennu, may hold clues to the origin of the solar system and the source of water and organic molecules found on Earth. (Photo by Joel Kowsky/NASA via Getty Images)

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump plans to sign an executive order before the end of the year creating a U.S. Space Command as a major military command.

Vice President Mike Pence will make the announcement Tuesday at the Kennedy Space Center, in Cape Canaveral, Florida, two U.S. officials said, and Trump could sign the order as soon as Tuesday.

The move is separate from Trump’s goal of creating a “Space Force” as an independent armed service branch, but could be a step in that direction.

The U.S. Air Force’s existing Space Command would be a key component of the new joint entity, raising space to the same status as U.S. Cyber Command.

According to U.S. officials, Pence will be at the Pentagon on Tuesday and will meet with the Joint Chiefs. Space Command is expected to be among the issues discussed. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they weren’t authorized to speak publicly.

The move would actually recreate a U.S. Space Command, which existed from 1985 to 2002. It was disbanded in the aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attacks so that U.S. Northern Command could be established, focusing on defense of the homeland.

Although Space Command went away, its functions did not. They were absorbed by U.S. Strategic Command, and the Air Force retained its lead role in space through Air Force Space Command.

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