Recently, U.S. President Donald Trump directed the Department Defense to create a new Space Force. Congress has pursued similar ideas in the recent past. If the United States is going to create a new space agency it may, however, be better served by establishing a ‘Space Guard’ modelled after and organized similarly to the existing U.S. Coast Guard. Indeed, it has become increasingly apparent the United States may need to establish such an agency sooner, rather than later to ensure that it meets its international legal obligations and to address widening authorities and capabilities gaps in existing U.S. space ‘governance’ programs.
A pending ‘space boom’ led by private actors and businesses, and indeed encouraged by the United States government, makes it more and more likely that existing international legal regimes will prove inadequate governance structures as increasing numbers of state and private actors take to the stars. Further, the United States government currently divides responsibility and authorities for space operations amongst several departments and agencies, which is burdensome, inefficient, and unlikely to be agile enough to keep pace with, let alone effectively regulate and manage private space ventures.
This article argues that establishing a Space Guard is a critical first step in how the United States can contribute to twenty-first century space governance, while at the same time also protecting important U.S. interests, because only an agency modelled on the Coast Guard’s ability to exercise broad, interdependent authorities across every aspect within an entire domain, and with the organizational culture to responsibly wield those authorities, will be able to effectively and efficiently manage future U.S. space activities.Air and Space Law