As of January 2020[update], the only nation with an independent space force is the United States, which established the United States Space Force in December 2019. Russia had an organized and independent military branch space force from 1992 to 1997, and 2001 to 2011.
In 1992 the Russian Space Forces were established as a separate service branch within the Russian Armed Forces, becoming the first independent space force in the world. In 1997 it was merged into the Strategic Missile Forces, however this decision put military space at an extreme disadvantage, and in 2001 it was reestablished as an independent military branch. In 2011 it became the core of the Russian Aerospace Defense Forces, which merged Russia's space and air defense forces into one service. In 2015 the Russian Air Force and Russian Aerospace Defense Forces were merged together to form the Russian Aerospace Forces, which reestablished the Russian Space Forces as one of its three sub-branches, although it is not an independent service.
In 2015 China established the People's Liberation Army Strategic Support Force as an independent service branch of the People's Liberation Army, responsible for space, cyber, and electronic warfare. Prior to the SSF's establishment, responsibilities for cyber, space, and electronic warfare were split across four different departments.
Military space development within the United States started with the Army Air Forces in 1945 and most of its space forces were organized within the United States Air Force, which became the executive agent for space in 1962. In 1982 the Air Force created Air Force Space Command, which merged all of its space forces into one command. The United States Army and United States Navy both possess significantly smaller numbers of space assets, centralized in the Army Space and Missile Defense Command and the Navy Tenth Fleet. Operational command of space operations is centralized within United States Space Command, which previously existed from 1985 to 2002, and was reestablished in August 2019. In December 2019, the U.S. Congress authorized the creation of the United States Space Force, which was officially established on 20 December 2019. This new service branch was created out of the Air Force Space Command.
List of independent space forces
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- Ted Barrett and Ellie Kaufman. "Congress passes defense bill that would give US a space force and federal workers parental leave for the first time". CNN.
- Hitchens, Theresa. "16,000 AFSPC Head To Space Force; What About The Rest?".
- "U.S Space Force Facebook Page". Retrieved 20 December 2019.