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Ahead of this weekend’s Bastille Day celebration on Sunday, French President Emmanuel Macron announced the creation of a space command that would be part of the country’s Air Force, according to Reuters.
President Macron made the remarks to military personnel, saying that the space command would be responsible for defending the country’s satellites, and that it would officially be created in September. The Air Force, he says, will eventually be renamed as Space and Air Force. It appears as though this new command will replace France’s existing Joint Space Command, which is already responsible for France’s existing space assets, and coordinating with the militaries of other European nations.
While it has the third-oldest space agency, France has begun to focus more on space in recent years. According to Breaking Defense, the country plans to spend 3.6 billion euros between now and 2025, and in December 2018, it launched a new military reconnaissance satellite, the CS0-1, with more to follow in the coming years.
In recent years, a number of countries have begun to recognize space as a distinct “domain” of warfare — a distinct location or concept where warfare can take place, such as on land, sea, air, or space, or within digital systems. This command appears to be France’s answer to addressing the the problems that space-borne military infrastructure potentially brings.
France’s new command looks as though it would be analogous to the United States Space Command, a part of the US military originally founded in 1985 to oversee and coordinate the country’s orbital assets, like satellites. That command was disbanded and merged into the US Strategic Command after the September 11th attacks. Last year, President Donald Trump ordered the Department of Defense to create a new Space Command, a precursor to a new, full-fledged branch of the military, Space Force.