US Space Force’s first launch go for Monday night

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SpaceX to launch Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral

The first official launch of the U.S. Space Force is a go for Monday evening at Cape Canaveral, Florida.

The SpaceX Starlink launch is set to blast off at 9:19 p.m. ET.

The launch is the first sponsored under the new U.S. Space Force, which was signed into existence on Dec. 20 by President Donald Trump as the sixth branch of the armed forces.

The launch will carry another SpaceX Starlink satellite into earth orbit.

“Space is the world's new war-fighting domain,” Trump said during the signing ceremony at Joint Base Andrews just outside Washington. “Among grave threats to our national security, American superiority in space is absolutely vital. And we’re leading, but we’re not leading by enough, and very shortly we’ll be leading by a lot.”

Space Force is not designed or intended to put combat troops in space.

Defense Secretary Mark Esper told reporters Friday, “Our reliance on space-based capabilities has grown dramatically, and today outer space has evolved into a warfighting domain of its own.” Maintaining dominance in space, he said, will now be Space Force's mission.

Space has become increasingly important to the U.S. economy. The Global Positioning System provides navigation services to the military as well as civilians. Its constellation of about two dozen orbiting satellites is operated by the 50th Space Wing from an operations center at Schriever Air Force Base in Colorado.

In a report last February, the Pentagon asserted China and Russia have embarked on major efforts to develop technologies that could allow them to disrupt or destroy American and allied satellites in a crisis or conflict.

“The United States faces serious and growing challenges to its freedom to operate in space,” the report said.

When he publicly directed the Pentagon in June 2018 to begin working toward a Space Force, Trump spoke of the military space mission as part of a broader vision of achieving American dominance in space.