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The United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket carrying NASA's Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security-Regolith Explorer (OSIRIS-REx) spacecraft lifts off. Photo by Joel Kowsky/NASA via Getty Images

Speaking alongside Defense Secretary James Mattis at the Pentagon Thursday, Vice President Pence announced that "establishing the Space Force is an idea whose time has come."

The big picture: The Vice President explained the Pentagon has begun the process of establishing Space Force as a 6th branch of the U.S. military by 2020, beginning with the establishment of a new combatant command overseen by a four-star general. However, only Congress has the power to establish a new branch of the military.

The details: Pence outlined the first stages of a plan that the Department of Defense will deliver to congress to develop a U.S. Space Force. The plan includes four pillars, including the need to "strengthen deterrence and warfighting options."

The report explains the Defense Department is requesting Congress appropriate another $8 billion for space security systems over the next 5 years and will work with Congress to enact a statutory authority in the National Defense Authorization Act for these programs.

Leading up to the establishment of a 6th branch of the military, the Defense Department has proposed to Congress that it will establish a Space Development Agency, a Space Operations Force, and a new U.S. Space Command to improve and evolve space warfighting, including integrating innovative force designs, concepts of operation, doctrines, tactics, techniques and procedures.

  • The development of this branch will require a new position of assistant secretary defense for space who will report directly to Secretary Mattis, Pence announced.

Quickly after Pence's announcement concluded, the president expressed his support for the development in a tweet.

The bottom line: The development of a Space Force comes in response to anti-satellite weaponry and other technologies by countries such as China and Russia, which Pence and Mattis cited as emerging threats that must be countered.

Go deeper

Updated 33 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Health: Coronavirus deaths reach 4,000 per day as hospitals remain in crisis mode — CDC warns highly transmissible coronavirus variant could become dominant in U.S. in March.
  2. Politics: Biden says, "We will manage the hell out of" vaccine distribution — Biden taps ex-FDA chief to lead Operation Warp Speed amid rollout of COVID plan — Widow of GOP congressman-elect who died of COVID-19 will run to fill his seat.
  3. Vaccine: Battling Black mistrust of the vaccines"Pharmacy deserts" could become vaccine deserts — Instacart to give $25 to shoppers who get vaccine.
  4. Economy: Unemployment filings explode againFed chair: No interest rate hike coming any time soon —  Inflation rose more than expected in December.
  5. World: WHO team arrives in China to investigate pandemic origins.

NRA declares bankruptcy, says it will reincorporate in Texas

Wayne LaPierre of the National Rifle Association (NRA) speaks during CPAC in 2016. Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

The National Rifle Association said Friday it has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy and will seek to reincorporate in Texas, calling New York, where it is currently registered, a "toxic political environment."

The big picture: The move comes just months after New York Attorney General Letitia James filed a lawsuit to dissolve the NRA, alleging the group committed fraud by diverting roughly $64 million in charitable donations over three years to support reckless spending by its executives.

3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Biden: "We will manage the hell out of" vaccine distribution

Joe Biden. Photo: Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images

President-elect Joe Biden promised to invoke the Defense Production Act to increase vaccine manufacturing, as he outlined a five-point plan to administer 100 million COVID-19 vaccinations in the first months of his presidency.

Why it matters: With the Center for Disease Control and Prevention warning of a more contagious variant of the coronavirus, Biden is trying to establish how he’ll approach the pandemic differently than President Trump.