Representatives from the five branches of the Military throw out the first pitch before the opening day game between the Miami Marlins and the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park (Washington, DC) on April 3, 2017. They may soon be joined by a sixth branch: Space Corps. Photo by Matt Hazlett/Getty Images

The House Armed Services Committee voted to create the U.S. Space Corps, a proposed sixth branch of the Armed Forces that would exclusively focus on securing U.S. power in space, on June 28, according to Federal News Radio.

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The proposal was put to a vote because of China and Russia’s increase in space power. There has been a growing concern that China and Russia could shoot down Earth-launched missiles. According to a 2015 report by the US-China Economic and Security Review Commission, China shot down one of its satellites to test how well it would do in a possible space war. The Defense Intelligence Agency also reported that Russia wants more power in space to create a correlation between space supremacy and earth supremacy.

“It used to be that space was a sanctuary. Once you got your asset into orbit, you could do what you wanted to do,” Victoria Samson, Washington director of the Secure World Foundation, said. “Now there’s a real concern that the backbone of our national security capabilities could be interfered with at a critical point.”

The Air Force expressed its disapproval of the idea.

“The Pentagon is complicated enough. This will make it more complex, add more boxes to the organization chart,” Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson said on June 21. Sean O’Keefe, a former NASA head and Navy Secretary, said in an interview with Vox that creating a sixth branch would add another layer of bureaucracy to government proceedings. He said that the proposed sixth branch is “a solution in search of a problem.” Both Wilson and O'Keefe said they believe the Air Force is doing enough in space. In fact, the Air Force requested a 20 percent increase in their space budget for 2018.

However, not everyone agreed with these sentiments.

“Space has not been given adequate priority by our friends in the Air Force. They do many things wonderfully well, but this is a new area, a new responsibility that a corps would help us address more effectively,” said Representative Jim Cooper (D-Tennessee), during the voting proceedings. “We could wake up one morning and be blinded and deafened by adversary powers, because so many of our most precious assets are up in space.”

The proposed branch would have originally operated as a branch within the Air Force, but the committee decided to suggest the creation of a sixth branch. Former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld suggested implementing a Space Corps in 2001, but because of the occurrence of 9/11, the proposal was put to the side.

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The committee said the bill’s implementation would make the Defense Department establish the proposed branch by January 2019. It was decided that Space Corps would exist within the Air Force as the Marine Corps exists within the Navy. The Secretary of the Air Force would preside over the Air Force and the Space Corps, but a new chief of staff of the Space Corps would be equal to the chief of staff of the Air Force.

“I think it’s being done in a deliberate and intelligent manner. Space has changed. We’ve already taken for granted for too long that we dominate space, and we don’t anymore,” said Adam Smith (D-Washington), the committee’s top Democrat. “We need to be ready to confront this, and yes, buried deeply within the Air Force, you could do that, but it doesn’t get the priority it deserves, given how important it is and how it impacts everything that we do.”