Failure to Launch: Trump's Space Force Struggling to Take Off as Financial and Political Realities Hit Hard

President Donald Trump's dream of creating a space force as the sixth branch of the military may struggle to become reality amid opposition from congressional Republicans and criticism that the setup costs required are unjustifiable.

Trump wants a dedicated space force to tackle defense threats in space and protect valuable military and intelligence hardware, such as satellites, from attack by rivals such as Russia and China.

Mike Coffman, a Republican representative from Colorado's 6th District, which includes Buckley Air Force Base and the 460th Space Wing, told Politico he thinks the space force is a "really bad idea."

"I have worked to reduce the size of the Pentagon bureaucracy," said Coffman, who is leading the congressional pushback against Trump's space force. "And now we have a plan by this administration to expand that bureaucracy by creating a whole new branch of military service—a department of space—without, I believe, a commensurate increase in capability."

According to Politico, senior military officers, defense contractors, lobbyists and policy analysts are concerned that the space force could become a resource-draining distraction that plunders money and attention away from other branches of the armed forces.

An internal Air Force memo put the cost of establishing a space force at almost $13 billion over its first five years, the Associated Press reported. The memo was written by Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson.

Space News reported that the Air Force Association wrote in a position paper that the creation of a space force would "do more harm than good." There is already a Space Command within the Air Force.

"The U.S. Air Force has led the armed forces in establishing America's space capability such that it is unrivaled in the world," the association said. "Today, to split up the well-integrated set of air and space capabilities that have been organized to seamlessly contribute to America's military capabilities would result in more harm than good."

One of the concerns among critics is that federal money will inevitably go into bureaucratic overhead costs, such as establishing a new headquarters instead of operations and research.

Instead, they believe the president should pour more money into the existing defense infrastructure, bolstering space operations and creating new ones without establishing an entire force.

Congress will debate the administration's space force plan and vote on legislation to establish it as a sixth branch of the military alongside the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps and Coast Guard.

The president may have to appease critics by altering or watering down his plan, or boosting other branches of the military, to get his space force through Congress. That could become an even harder task after the November midterms if the Democrats regain control of Congress.