Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The U.S. Space Force has become the sixth and newest branch of the nation's military, after President Trump signed the National Defense Authorization Act.

Space is the world’s new war-fighting domain."
— President Trump's remarks at the launch

Our thought bubble, per Axios' Miriam Kramer: Some space experts are concerned that the U.S. has fallen behind as other nations — like China — have made moves to weaponize space. The establishment of the Space Force could help the U.S. catch up.

  • Others warn that the Space Force will put too much focus on military uses of outer space instead of maintaining it as a peaceful realm.

The big picture: The Space Force became the newest military service since 1947 when Trump signed the bill into law on Friday, just two days after being impeached by the House.

  • It's part of a $1.4 trillion government spending package, which encompasses the budget of the Pentagon. It provides a "steady stream of financing" for the president's southern border wall plans, reversing an "unpopular and unworkable automatic spending cuts to defense and domestic programs, AP notes.
  • Some 16,000 Air Force members and civilians who worked at Air Force Space Command have been assigned to serve the new military branch, which was re-designated the Space Force.

What's next: Some of the new personnel will be officially transferred to the Space Force next year, "while others will remain within the Air Force," per ABC News, which notes service members from the "Army and Navy's space programs will be integrated into the new service."

What to watch: Kaitlyn Johnson, a space policy expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, noted to AP that with many Democrats against the Space Force becoming a separate military branch, the service "could be curtailed or even dissolved if a Democrat wins the White House next November."

Go deeper: Space Force's Catch-22

Go deeper

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A group of 239 scientists in 32 countries is calling for the World Health Organization to revise its recommendations to account for airborne transmission as a significant factor in how the coronavirus spreads, the New York Times reports.

The big picture: The WHO has said the virus mainly spreads via large respiratory droplets that fall to the ground once they've been discharged in coughs and sneezes. But the scientists say evidence shows the virus can spread from smaller particles that linger in air indoors.

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Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 9 a.m. ET: 11,294,859 — Total deaths: 531,419 — Total recoveries — 6,078,552Map.
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  4. Public health: U.S. coronavirus infections hit record highs for 3 straight days.
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  6. World: Mexican leaders call for tighter border control as infections rise in U.S.
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Protesters toss Columbus statue into Baltimore’s Inner Harbor

Christopher Columbus statue in Columbus Piazza in Little Italy on April 9, 2015 in Baltimore. Photo: Raymond Boyd/Getty Images

Protesters in Baltimore on Saturday toppled a statue of Christopher Columbus and tossed it into the city's Inner Harbor, the Baltimore Sun reports.

Why it matters: It's the latest monument toppled by demonstrators during the protests against racism and police brutality. Statues of Confederate soldiers and slave owners have been a flashpoint in the protests.