By Buddy Blouin
Preparation and familiarity help humans in virtually every aspect of life. You aren’t going to get paid millions of dollars to play in the NFL or the NBA if you only show up for the game and don’t put in the work building up to gameday during practice. Classroom settings are great, and the advances we’re experiencing with virtual reality are, too, but hands-on experience is a teacher like no other. So, it should be no surprise that the U.S. Space Force (USSF) is now looking to create temporary training facilities that are actually in orbit. Preparing Guardians means creating Space Force training that is literally out of this world.

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Space Force Training Is Headed to the Final Frontier

Right now, you can find six military bases operated by the USSF, seven stations smaller than the primary bases, and the once-secret, yet still mysterious, Thule Air Base in Greenland. These military installations may be found in different parts of the world, but they all have one big thing in common: they’re all very much found on Earth. For most military branches, this isn’t a problem. Defending the air, land, and sea can be accommodated because our planet has all of it readily available. But if you’re going to defend American interests in space, you’ll need to prepare in space. So far, such Space Force training has been a challenge, but the newest branch of the U.S. military is looking to change all of that. However, the logistics that go into creating such training remain a massive challenge for Guardians. Still, the execution of such a venture would move troops from the virtual world and into… well, you get the idea. The newest idea for a Space Force training location comes with many challenges considering the USSF isn’t looking so much at a physical location to conduct its training in space but rather is looking at the entirety of the most infinite location known to mankind. “It’s just a matter of establishing with a specific set of spacecraft in a specific region for a specific period of time the sets of activities that you need to do, you do them at that point in time for that purpose and then (regular) activity continues,” said Gen. David Thompson, the Vice Chief of Space Operations. “So in reality, the physical range is the entire domain of space. It’s bringing together people and tools and an approach at a specific point in time and in space to conduct tests and training,” Gen. Thompson continued. A person who's trained to travel in space will eventually need to test their skills in a real-life setting. This initiative for U.S. Space Force training in orbit will provide that exact opportunity.

Weaponizing Space and Moving Spacecraft

Get all of the images of Star Wars out of your head, at least for now, but the reality is that we as a species are making incredible progress in space exploration. That means we’ll need to be able to defend ourselves while traveling in space, which comes with unique challenges, but it does involve weaponry. On Earth, you have plenty of variables, including things such as gravity, to consider. Space is the same, minus the gravity, of course, but in the sense that there are variables that need to be considered in operating and maneuvering in space as a fighting force, with spacecraft, and with weapons. Even simple actions such as moving satellites are a new challenge, as many American satellites are in space but not with the intention of being moved to prevent or evade an enemy attack. Yes, there are computer models, ideas, simulations, and calculations to be had, but real progress can only be made through real-life applications. This is seen as the Space Force boosts the number and complexity of training exercises, which points to the desire for the branch to get Guardians quickly acclimated to a heightened level of readiness and defend American interests immediately.

New Space Force Training Initiative Comes After Black Skies

While the new ambitions of the U.S. Space Force may be a ways away, Guardians are hard at work staying prepared for various threats, thanks to Black Sky training. In September 2022, Guardians went through an extensive Black Skies electronic warfare training exercise. The event was one of many in a series of United States Space Force training exercises. This particular exercise provided Guardians a chance to boost their digital simulation capability before an orbital warfare exercise slated for summer 2023. Space Force training continues to evolve as the youngest branch in charge of the U.S. Space Defense Systems finds its way and grows into a role unlike any other before it.

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