A Senate hearing was held on May 14 to consider how it would benefit commercial space activities.
Chairman Ted Cruz argued that Space Force would be necessary for the protection of civil and commercial space activities against any threats. It would ensure that rogue nations would not affect the success of America’s space activities. He likened it to the Navy’s role against pirate forces.
Jim Bridenstine from NASA agreed that Space Force would protect big investments in space activities. Kevin O’Connell from Commerce Department stated that a powerful military force in space would boost activities, and that this industry was potentially worth trillions.
Robert Cardillo, a former director of NGIA stated that reduction in uncertainty would promote future investment.
However, no specific roles of Space Force were discussed regarding protection or threats.
Sen. Sinema focused on orbital debris threats. She mentioned that there were currently no regulations regarding space operations and that the US should lead by implementing unified standards.
This led to discussion over traffic management regarding civilian operations in space. The responsibility was being transferred from Defense Department to Commerce Department. However, progress is currently slow, as some Congressional members call for FAA to take over that responsibility.
Pamela Melroy, who is an ex-astronaut, mentioned that both sides has cons and pros, stating that FAA has worked with Air Force, regarding space traffic. Many were prepared to handle this work. However, assigning this duty to Commerce Department allowed concentration of that responsibility with other space responsibilities assigned to it.
Gen. David Thompson of Space Command stated the US Air Force would still be responsible for space management. However, it was willing to pass the responsibility over to civil agencies as it wasn’t meant for crafting and implementing regulations.
Melroy stated that it was up to the Government to take a decision whether to choose Transportation or Commerce for this role. She cautioned against a third department as the worst choice.