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Photo illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

President Trump will sign a directive on Tuesday that will call for the formal establishment of a U.S. Space Force as a 6th branch of the armed services, to be housed within the Air Force.

The big picture: The president's directive, known as Space Policy Directive 4, would task the Defense Department with submitting a legislative proposal to Congress to establish the Space Force as an armed service within the Air Force. The proposal would include the designation of a chief of staff for the Space Force, who would sit on the Joint Chiefs of Staff, as well as an undersecretary of defense for space.

  • In the meantime, the administration will set up a Unified Combatant Command for space, to be known as U.S. Space Command. This command will absorb the space-related responsibilities previously assigned to U.S. Strategic Command, according to a senior administration official.

What they're saying: Administration officials said the White House and Defense Department will submit the proposal to Capitol Hill to form a 6th branch of the military, on par with the Marine Corps that sits within the Navy, that would be dedicated to space.

  • Congress must approve the funds for the Space Force and will play a major role in determining how it is structured.
  • The idea of housing the force within the Air Force is seen as a move to satisfy critics on Capitol Hill who raised concerns about the cost of providing the infrastructure for an entirely new department.

In the meantime, the administration is moving to set up a unified combatant command for space that will be separate from the existing Air Force Space Command. The White House said it would not release a cost estimate for these changes until its Fiscal Year 2020 budget release next month.

Why it matters: The Trump administration says it's moving to create the Space Force in response to adversaries' increased space capabilities, particularly China.

  • The U.S. has long been dominant in space exploration and the military use of space, such as through spy satellites and a constellation of GPS satellites for navigation and weapons guidance.
  • Now, however, China and other countries are launching ambitious space programs, including military capabilities that could threaten American space assets.

Go deeper: Axios' deep dive on space

Go deeper

North Carolina police pepper-spray protesters marching to the polls

Officers in North Carolina used pepper spray on protesters and arrested eight people at a get-out-the-vote rally at Alamance County’s courthouse Saturday during the final day of early voting, the City of Graham Police Department confirmed.

Driving the news: The peaceful "I Am Change" march to the polls was organized by Rev. Greg Drumwright, from the Citadel Church in Greensboro, N.C., and included a minute's silence for George Floyd. Melanie Mitchell told the News & Observer her daughters, age 5 and 11, were among those pepper-sprayed by police soon after.

Updated 4 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Health: Ipsos poll: COVID trick-or-treat — Study: Trump campaign rallies likely led to over 700 COVID-related deaths.
  2. World: Boris Johnson announces month-long COVID-19 lockdown in England — Greece tightens coronavirus restrictions as Europe cases spike — Austria reimposes coronavirus lockdowns amid surge of infections.
  3. Economy: Conference Board predicts economy won’t fully recover until late 2021.
  4. Technology: Fully at-home rapid COVID test to move forward.
  5. States: New York rolls out new testing requirements for visitors.
6 hours ago - Health

Boris Johnson announces month-long COVID-19 lockdown in England

Prime Minsiter Boris Johnson. Photo: NurPhoto / Getty Images

A new national lockdown will be imposed in England, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced Saturday, as the number of COVID-19 cases in the country topped 1 million.

Details: Starting Thursday, people in England must stay at home, and bars and restaurants will close, except for takeout and deliveries. All non-essential retail will also be shuttered. Different households will be banned from mixing indoors. International travel, unless for business purposes, will be banned. The new measures will last through at least December 2.