KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. — The Trump administration launched U.S. Space Command as the newest combatant command Tuesday morning, announced by Vice President Mike Pence at Kennedy Space Center.
- Vice President Mike Pence at KSC for Space Command announcement
- He said Trump administration directed creation of 11th combatant command
- Planned SpaceX launch delayed a day because of faulty sensor reading
- GPS satellite aboard will be used by US troops, civilians
- DESTINATION SPACE: Full coverage of space and launches on the East Coast
"A new era of American leadership in space has begun," Pence said before a crowd that included Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson.
In a one-page memo signed Tuesday, President Donald Trump authorized the Department of Defense to create the 11th combatant command, which will oversee military activities in space.
The creation of the new command is estimated to cost about $800 million, the Associated Press reported.
During his announcement, Pence highlighted that foreign nations have been developing electronic weapons to jam, blind and disable satellites like the one that is currently on the launch pad prepping for liftoff.
The U.S. Space Command is separate from the administration's plans to create a Space Force, which would be an entirely new branch of the military. He reiterated that the administration is working with Congress to create a Space Force by 2020.
Space Command existed from 1985 to 2002 but was disbanded after 9/11 in order for the military to create U.S. Northern Command for homeland defense. The new Space Command will be on the same status as U.S. Cyber Command, Special Operations Command or Strategic Command, the AP reported. It's unclear where the new command would be located, but Pence said it wouldn't be at Kennedy Space Center.
SpaceX rocket launch postponed
Pence was also at KSC to watch the launch of a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. The launch was postponed a day because of a faulty sensor reading.
SpaceX will try again Wednesday morning, the company said. The 26-minute window opens at 9:07 a.m. ET.
On board the SpaceX rocket is the first in a next generation of global positioning satellites for the U.S. Air Force.
Right now, GPS receivers are accurate to within 10 feet. But with the new fleet of satellites, they'll be able to pinpoint your location within 3 feet.
The next-gen satellites will also be used for navigation apps on smartphones.
"It's actually used for more than your location, it is the time source used for banking, used for farming, used in any number of industries where accurate times are needed," said Jason Hendrix, a program director at Harris Corporation.
The Melbourne-based Harris Corporation worked with the builder of the satellite, Lockheed Martin. The GPS satellite set to launch is the first of 32 GPS-3 satellites to launch.
Due to mission requirements from the U.S. Air Force, SpaceX is not planning to try to land the first-stage booster.
In West Texas, Jeff Bezos' Blue Origin was scheduled to launch one of its rockets into space at about the same time as the SpaceX launch, but the launch was postponed at least a day because of an issue on the ground. That mission will carry NASA-sponsored research and experiments into space, including a science payload for a team from UCF.
Spectrum News staff Greg Pallone, Audrea Huff and Anthony Leone cotnributed to this story.