Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

At his rallies, President Trump's base gets fired up about the creation of a Space Force. And behind the scenes, the Pentagon is pushing to stand it up on deadline. But publicly at least, it's not much more fleshed out than the idea.

The big picture: A stated objective of the new force is to pull together U.S. space operations — 90% of which remain under the Air Force — to defend satellite infrastructure and combat adversaries. But as of now, the U.S. is far behind its rivals in organizing militarily in space.

Between the lines: Russia has had sophisticated launch systems for decades, in addition to another that tracks objects more than 30,000 miles above the Earth, according to the CSIS 2018 Space Threat Assessment.

  • "Our main rivals in space have already begun reorganizations to elevate space within their military establishments," Todd Harrison, senior fellow at CSIS, told Axios.
  • Both China and Russia are working to field anti-satellite weapons "that could blind or damage sensitive space-based optical sensors, such as those used for remote sensing or missile defense," according to a February report from the Director of National Intelligence.
  • China recently launched an anti-satellite weapon useable against orbiting military, missile-warning and communication satellites, per the assessment.
  • The debris such a strike would produce could linger for generations and interfere with satellites.

What's next: The Pentagon and Air Force have separately estimated $8 billion and $13 billion budgets for these tasks over the next five years, respectively. They expect to complete a new U.S. Space Command by the end of this year, and to include the cost of standing up a space force in the President's 2020 Budget Request.

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Biden enters final stretch with huge cash advantage over Trump

Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden in Wilmington, Delaware, on Monday. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden had $177.3 million in the bank at the end of September, per the latest Federal Election Commission filings.

Why it matters: President Trump's re-election campaign reported having $63.1 million in the bank at the end of last month.

Of note: Trump was well ahead of Biden earlier in the year. Now, the former vice president has significantly out-raised Trump for two consecutive months.

Go deeper: The green tsunami

Editor's note: This is a developing news story. Please check back for updates.

Updated 22 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Politics: Americans feel Trump's sickness makes him harder to trustFlorida breaks record for in-person early voting — McConnell urges White House not to strike stimulus deal before election — Republican senators defend Fauci as Trump escalates attacks.
  2. Health: The next wave is gaining steam.
  3. Education: Schools haven't become hotspots — University of Michigan students ordered to shelter-in-place.
  4. World: Ireland moving back into lockdown — Argentina becomes 5th country to report 1 million infections.

Court allows North Carolina mail-in ballots deadline extension

An absentee ballot election worker stuffs ballot applications at the Mecklenburg County Board of Elections office in Charlotte, North Carolina, in September. Photo: Logan Cyrus/AFP via Getty Images

North Carolina can accept absentee ballots that are postmarked Nov. 3 on Election Day until Nov. 12, a federal appeals court decided Tuesday in a 12-3 majority ruling.

Why it matters: The 4th Circuit Court of Appeals' ruling against state and national Republican leaders settles a lawsuit brought by a group representing retirees, and it could see scores of additional votes counted in the key battleground state.