Space Force: Understanding the Newest Branch of the Military

We’ve all heard that the Space Force logo looks like Star Trek and Space Force personal are going to be “guardians” of the galaxy (or at least the near-Earth portion of it), but what else do you know about the sixth and newest branch of the United States military?

Today we’ll explore what Space Force is, how it differs from the Air Force, and how to join the Space Force. Along the way, we will uncover the real story behind the “Star Trek” insignia. Strap yourself in; it’s time for lift off.

What’s Space Force?

The United States Space Force (USSF) is a new branch of the Armed Forces. It was officially established on December 20, 2019, for the purpose of protecting U.S. and allied interests in space and providing space capabilities to the joint force.

Space Force vs Air Force

You may be wondering, “What is the difference between the Air Force and the Space Force?” Great question, especially since the Space Force and its initial group of “Space Force guardians” started out as part of the Air Force Space Command.

The Space Force officially explains the relationship between the Space Force and the Air Force saying, “The United States Space Force is a separate and distinct branch of the armed services, organized under the Department of the Air Force in a manner very similar to how the Marine Corps is organized under the Department of the Navy.”

The Air Force has long had personnel assigned to space-specific roles within its Air Force Space Command (AFSPC), so when the new branch of the military was created, the AFSPC was redesignated as the United States Space Force. During the transition, Airmen who were part of AFSPC kept their Air Force designation but were assigned to the Space Force. Some of those Airmen will eventually officially transfer into the Space Force while others while simply remain Air Force members who are assigned to the Space Force. It all depends on their specialty codes, unit needs, and other factors.

Space Force Insignia

For many casual observers, Space Force and Star Trek collide in the official Space Force symbol. The overall shape of the Space Force Delta is very similar to the asymmetrical delta-like shape used for Star Trek’s United Federation of Planets Starfleet Command logo and for the Next Generation crew’s communicators. When the delta shape is placed on the dark blue disc of the U.S. Space Force seal and is surrounded by a field of stars, it looks even more like Starfleet.

In reality, while the two insignias are similar, the Delta symbol has a long history of use on the Air Force Space Command insignia and was actually chosen to use on the Space Force logo and seal because it “honors the heritage of the USAF and Space Command.”

Space Force Motto

The official motto of the Space Force is “Semper Supra” which is Latin for “Always Above.”

Space Force Song

The Space Force hasn’t chosen their official march and/or hymn yet. For now, they are using “The Invincible Eagle” by John Philip Sousa.

Space Force Mission

The mission of the U.S. Space Force (USSF) reads: “The USSF is responsible for organizing, training, and equipping Guardians to conduct global space operations that enhance the way our joint and coalition forces fight, while also offering decision makers military options to achieve national objectives.”

Space Force and NASA

Given the nature of both their operations, clearly the Space Force and NASA will have some level of interaction and perhaps even collaboration. Air Force pilots have a long history of becoming NASA astronauts, so we expect the same will be true for Space Force guardians. We will likely see multiple active-duty guardian astronauts plus some guardians who apply to NASA after fulfilling their military contracts.

Space Force Rank Structure

Since the Space Force is organized under the Department of the Air Force, the highest-ranking members are shared by both organizations. Space Force’s top three officers, the Chief of Space Operations, Chief Master Sergeant of the Space Force, and Vice Chief of Space Operations all report to the Secretary and Under Secretary of the Air Force.

Other high-ranking Space Force leadership/general officer positions include the Space Force Director of Staff, Chief Human Capital Officer, Chief Operations Officer, Chief Strategy and Resourcing Officer, and Chief Technology and Innovation Officer.

Currently, the Space Force is using the same grade structure as other military branches for both enlisted (E-1 to E-9) and officer (O-1 to O-10) personnel. The names of each rank may change in the future, but for now they are the same as the Air Force.

Space Force Recruiting

This Space Force recruitment video highlights the wonders of space and is enough to inspire many a potential guardian to join. But who can join Space Force? Do you need to transfer over from the Air Force or another service branch? Can you enlist in the Space Force?

Many existing Air Force members in space-specific roles will eventually become Space Force members, and military personnel from other branches will also be eligible to apply.

Civilians who want to enlist in the Space Force and those with a college degree who would like to become a Space Force officer can review Space Force careers to see which specialties they may qualify for.

How to Join Space Force as a Civilian

Are you interested in being part of the Space Force but either don’t qualify or don’t want to join the military? You may be in luck. Space Force says its mission “brings together both military and civilian assets” and “incredible opportunities await talented and ambitious professionals who can contribute to this vital new branch of our military.”

If you have a strong professional background in science, technology, aerospace, or engineering, you may qualify to join Space Force as a civilian employee. Note that civilian Space Force employees must be U.S. citizens.

Space Force Basic Training

Where is Space Force basic training? For now, Space Force Basic Training takes place at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas.

The Space Force sent its first small batch of trainees through the Air Force Basic Military Training (BMT) program at Lackland in the fall of 2020 and in May of 2022, the first class of all Space Force recruits began their Lackland BMT.

Space Force Headquarters

In the world of Star Trek, Starfleet is based out of San Francisco, California. But did Space Force follow suit? Where is Space Force headquarters? Sorry to disappoint all the “Trekkers,” but Space Force headquarters is not in San Francisco.

Like most other military branches, the official Space Force headquarters and Office of the Chief of Space Operations is located within the Pentagon in Washington, D.C.

The leadership of the Space Force is spread between the following locations:

  • Space Operations Command (SPOC): Peterson, Colorado
  • Space Systems Command (SSC): Los Angeles, California
  • Space Training and Readiness Command (STARCOM): Peterson, Colorado

Space Force Duty Stations

Where are Space Force members stationed? The Space Force is still scaling up and working with the Air Force to decide which Air Force bases will become Space Force locations. For now, if you (or someone you know) joins the Space Force now, you could end up at one of the following locations:

Space Force Uniform

The Space Force is putting new uniform prototype designs through extensive wear testing before they officially adopt the designs. Eventually, the new service branch will have its own physical training (PT) uniform, military dress uniform, and perhaps a specific combat utility uniform.

Space Force vs Air Force Uniform

For now, Space Force personnel are keeping the same OCP combat utility uniforms as the Air Force and Army. Guardians are simply being issued Space Force-specific name tapes, branch tapes, and rank tapes with space blue embroidery.

Space Force revealed its initial dress uniform prototypes in the fall of 2021, but the service is continuing to use the Air Force’s blue service dress uniform until the Space Force designs are finalized.

Space Force Gear

Space Force Gear

Most of us won’t be putting on Space Force guardian uniforms anytime soon, but we can still join in the excitement with officially licensed Space Force t-shirts and Space Force caps. We also have special versions of the infamous Fisher space pen that can write at any angle, underwater, on grease, and in extreme temperatures. The Space Force space pens are etched with the Space Force delta insignia and come in chrome or matte black finishes.

Explore other aviation industry careers

It’s Your Turn

We would love to hear from you. In comments below, please share your thoughts about the Space Force program and mission. Are you or anyone you know planning to become a Space Force guardian? Do you think the insignia looks like Star Trek? Have at it.

MilitarySpace force

2 comments

Kathlyn K.Kaysen

Kathlyn K.Kaysen

To defend and protect our Military , going forward , into space.
The Hubble and JWST provide a step stool, for sure. You are in good hands~~🙏🇺🇸👀our Military is the best on the Planet 🌎 . The best to a new branch under our Air Force.

Sandy reagan

Sandy reagan

I find it fascinating that we have a fifth branch of the military space force,yet the U.S. Government still will not admit that we are a d have been involved with extra terrestrial beings at least since 1947 or even earlier bavback to the beginning of our history…in the Bible. I wish we could be told to objective of space force. To defe d and protect or co-operate with what is coming in this new Era! I appreciate the reddyness of the U.S. effort. I am of the geriatric age but I look forward to the future and the Stewart’s of this planet we call home. G[d U.S. space force.

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