Trump signs directive to clean up space junk; asks Pentagon to create 'Space Force'

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla.  — President Donald Trump signed a new space policy directive at the White House that aims to reduce satellite clutter in space.

Trump said Monday that the United States' space program had been bogged down by politics and rising costs.

The policy calls for providing a safe and secure environment in orbit, as satellite traffic increases. It also sets up new guidelines for satellite design and operation, to avoid collisions and spacecraft breakups.

Trump also declared that "there's no place like space."

Space Force

The president made the announcement at the same time he revealed the creation of what he called the Space Force, a new branch of the military whose creation will be overseen by Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Joseph Dunford.

"We are going to have the space force," Trump said, which he deemed a "separate but equal" branch of the military.

Trump said the United States will "be the leader by far" in space and looks to revive the nation's flagging space program.

The president framed space as a national security issue, saying he does not want "China and Russia and other countries leading us."

Trump also vowed to soon return the United States to the moon and to reach Mars.

Trump was joined by Vice President Mike Pence, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine, former astronaut Buzz Aldrin and members of his space council.