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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

1 hour ago - Technology
Column / Tech Agenda

The new digital extortion

Shoshana Gordon/Axios

If you run a hospital, a bank, a utility or a city, chances are you'll be hit with a ransomware attack. Given the choice between losing your precious data or paying up, chances are you'll pay.

Why it matters: Paying the hackers is the clear short-term answer for most organizations hit with these devastating attacks, but it's a long-term societal disaster, encouraging hackers to continue their lucrative extortion schemes.

2 hours ago - Health

CDC mask guidance sparks confusion, questions

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The CDC's surprise guidance last week freeing the fully vaccinated to go maskless sowed plenty of concerns across the country— even earning the "Saturday Night Live" treatment for all the questions it spurred.

Why it matters: With plenty of Americans still unvaccinated — and without any good way to confirm who has been vaccinated — some experts worry this could put many at increased risk.

Updated 4 hours ago - World

In photos: Israel-Hamas aerial bombardments enter second week

A ball of fire and a plume of smoke rise above buildings in Gaza City as Israeli forces shell the Palestinian enclave, early on May 17. Photo: Mahmud Hams/AFP via Getty Images

Israel and Hamas continued aerial bombardments into Monday morning, as fighting entered a second week.

Why it matters: The worst violence in the region since 2014 has resulted in the deaths of 197 people in Gaza, ruled by Hamas, and 10 in Israel. 58 Palestinian children and two Israeli children are among those killed since the aerial exchanges began on May 10, Reuters notes.