Trump Is Creating a Military 'Space Force,' but Is It Illegal?

President Donald Trump announced Monday that he will direct the Department of Defense and the Pentagon to create a new military branch called the "space force."

"It is not enough to merely have an American presence in space; we must have American dominance in space," Trump said at a meeting of the National Space Council on Monday. "We are going to have the Air Force and we are going to have the space force, separate but equal—it is going to be something."

Trump floated the idea in March and said it was a joke at first. He has since offered limited details about how the space force would operate.

During his announcement on Monday, he mentioned that the space program was a national security issue, and also that he didn't want "China and other countries leading us."

NEW: Pres. Trump says he is directing the Department of Defense and the Pentagon to "establish a space force as the sixth branch of the armed forces."

"We must have an American dominance in space."

— Evan McMurry (@evanmcmurry) June 18, 2018

Trump called space "a war-fighting domain, just like the land, air and sea," in March, while speaking to service members in California. "We may even have a space force," he told the audience.

It's unclear how Trump's space military will be regarded by other nations. The United Nations' 1967 Outer Space Treaty defined outer space as the "province of all mankind," stressing its use "for peaceful purposes."

Trump also said he was working to return man to the Moon. "This time, we will do more than plant our flag and leave our footprints," he said during his remarks Monday. "We will establish a long-term presence, expand our economy and build the foundation for the eventual mission to Mars—which is actually going to happen very quickly. And, you know, I've always said that rich guys seem to like rockets. So all of those rich guys that are dying for our real estate to launch their rockets, we won't charge you too much. Just go ahead. If you beat us to Mars, we'll be very happy and you'll be even more famous."