A top Washington defence think-tank has calculated how much it should roughly cost for the cheapest way for U.S. President Donald Trump to boost American space combat options by 2020, as promised.

Trump would like the "Space Force" to become the sixth branch of the U.S. Armed Forces, committed to making sure Americans have military capabilities to fight wars in outer space.

However, the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) projected this week that the five-year cost would come to an extra $1.5 billion to $2.7 billion in addition to the Department of Defense's present spending.

The cost is based on whether the government chooses to incorporate a Space Corps division into the Air Force, creates a separate but lean Space Force "lite" or sets up a more expansive Space Force "heavy."

In all three cases, the price seems feasible to Todd Harrison, director of defence budget analysis at CSIS.

In other news, the 404-day clock to connect, verify, and test the first integrated Orion spacecraft for its flight to the Moon began earlier this month after the European Service Module (ESM) arrived at the Kennedy Space Center (KSC) in Florida. All of the necessary Orion hardware for Exploration Mission-1 is in the Operations and Checkout (O&C) Building at KSC for the first time, where prime contractor Lockheed Martin will complete the assembly.

No time was wasted by technicians in unpacking the ESM and beginning preparations to mate the U.S.-built Crew Module Adapter (CMA) to the top of the module straight away.

The completion of assembly and checkout of the first integrated Orion is on the schedule. This is a series of tests of the new vehicle in Ohio, and final work back at KSC to hand it over to Exploration Ground Systems (EGS) for launch processing.

ESM Flight Model-1 (FM-1) arrived at KSC onboard an Antonov An-124 aircraft inside a transportation container, with the jumbo jet touching down at the Shuttle Landing Facility on November 6th.

Furthermore, a new project led by the ESA is looking into the ways that 3-D printing could be used to craft and run a habitat on the moon, cutting the dependency on Earth for logistics. For example, almost everything such as building materials, solar panels, equipment, tools, clothes, and even nutrients and ingredients for food could be 3-D printed – as detailed in a new video.

Space agencies around the globe are looking into the idea of a lunar base as the next step for human space exploration. 3-D printing could be the technology that makes it happen.

The goal would be to live off the land as much as possible, by printing as many structures, items and spares out of lunar regolith as they could, or by using and reusing materials brought for the mission, rather than continue to depend on the long, expensive supply line from Earth.

Finally, Jan. 7 is now the date for the launch of the first commercial crew test flight, an uncrewed SpaceX Dragon spacecraft that will begin a series of high-stakes missions over the next year, according to NASA.

In a statement on Nov 21, NASA explained that the Falcon 9 launch of the Crew Dragon spacecraft on a mission designated Demo-1 is slated for Jan. 7 from Kennedy Space Center’s Launch Complex 39A, the former Apollo and shuttle pad that SpaceX has renovated to support launches of its Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy vehicles, particularly, crewed Falcon 9 missions.

During that mission, the Crew Dragon spacecraft, also called Dragon 2, will fly a mission to the International Space Station as a way to test the systems of the vehicle. It will be the first orbital flight for the vehicle, and will not hold any passengers.

Do you think an American Space force is necessary? Why or why not? Do you think the American public would want the government to spend their money on that? 

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