Launching to New Heights: The Brief History of the US Space Force and its families

45th President of the United States, Donald Trump, directed the Department of Defense in 2018 that a new military branch was needed. This new branch was to be known as the United States Space Force and came to fruition after the legislation was signed on December 20, 2019. While going to space has not been a new idea, establishing its own military branch is a new idea in its own right. 

A new military branch had not been introduced since 1947, when the Air Force became independent from the Army. According to the USSF website:

“The USSF is a military service that organizes, trains, and equips space forces in order to protect U.S. and allied interests in space and to provide space capabilities to the joint force. USSF responsibilities include developing Guardians, acquiring military space systems, maturing the military doctrine for space power, and organizing space forces to present to our Combatant Commands.”

In a recent Air Force Times article, we learned that the USSF met its 18-month deadline to become a fully functioning force earlier this summer. The branch will start welcoming sailors, Marines, and soldiers from outside of the Air Force starting this fall. Roughly 6,000 soldiers and a group of civilians are already affiliated with the USSF along with 6,000 more airmen. 

Throughout the next year, the Department of the Air Force will determine career and accession paths for military and civilian personnel assigned or wanting to be assigned to the USSF.  While the exact process of joining is still being developed, anyone interested in joining the U.S. Space Force should look at current Air Force space-focused career fields such as Space Operations or Space Systems Maintenance. 

At this time, the Space Force has the same grade structure as the other military services (i.e., E-1 – E-9, O-1 – O-10 and incoming members will retain their current specific rank (e.g., Staff Sergeant, Major, etc.). No decisions have been made at this time on whether there will be any future changes. The USSF has recently revealed their insignia and uniform prototypes to the public. 

The Space Force Family

USSF stations are located in Colorado, California, and Florida but we expect more installations to soon become available as the force grows. Families can look to the Airman and Family Readiness Center for resources on maintaining a good work and family life balance. Even though many resources are labeled for the Air Force, they are still applicable for the Space Force family. A comprehensive spouse and family member guide available for download and print is available. 

Another notable resource is the Key Spouse program. The Key Spouse Program is a formal program that offers informal peer-to-peer/Wingman support to spouses and family members. The Key Spouse or Key Spouse Mentor is a conduit for base and community information, as well as programs that help families deal with military life cycle challenges. To get more information on this program, call your nearest A&FRC.