Members of the new US space force will be known as “guardians”, Vice-President Mike Pence announced on Friday, at a ceremony to mark the first birthday of the newest branch of the US armed forces, one of Donald Trump’s signature policy initiatives.
“It is my honour,” Pence said, “on behalf of the president of the United States, to announce that henceforth the men and women of the United States Space Force will be known as guardians.
“Soldiers, sailors, airmen, marines and guardians will be defending our nation for generations to come.”
On Twitter, the space force said: “The opportunity to name a force is a momentous responsibility. Guardians is a name with a long history in space operations, tracing back to the original command motto of Air Force Space Command in 1983, ‘Guardians of the High Frontier.’
“The name Guardians connects our proud heritage and culture to the important mission we execute 24/7, protecting the people and interest of the US and its allies.
The force’s Latin motto, adopted in July, means: “Always above.”
Pence’s announcement came on the same day Mike Hopkins, a US astronaut aboard the International Space Station, was transferred from the air force into the space force. Gen Jay Raymond, chief of space operations, said the new force was “beyond excited” to welcome its first astronaut.
Nonetheless, Pence’s announcement prompted familiar mirth on social media. As Military.com put it: “Space enthusiasts and military members were quick to point out the name Guardians evokes the Marvel Comics’ Guardians of the Galaxy film franchise, about a motley crew of superheroes in space.”
With the Trump administration on its way out of power, the future of the space force seems uncertain. On Saturday, the president tweeted that the “authorisation and start up of the SPACE FORCE” would be seen as “one of the Trump administration’s great achievements”.
But as the Associated Press put it, delicately: “President-elect Joe Biden has yet to reveal his plans for the space force in the next administration.”