The United States Space Force once again garnered the internet’s attention late last week, this time by unveiling the first official Space Force uniform. The snapshot, which prominently features patches of both a U.S. flag and the United States Space Command, stands out from other service uniforms in one specific way: the embroidered text on the “U.S. Space Force” name tape patch is in blue, rather than the Army’s black or Air Force’s “spice brown.”
This new Space Force utility uniform caught a lot of attention on social media. Mark Hamill, the actor originally made famous by playing the role of Luke Skywalker in the Star Wars franchise of films, couldn’t help but draw a comparison to his co-star Harrison Ford’s Star Wars character, Han solo.
— Mark Hamill (@HamillHimself) January 18, 2020
Hamill wasn’t the only fictional space-fairer to weigh in on the new uniform. Star Trek’s George Takei, famous for playing the role of Sulu in original Star Trek series and films, echoed the sentiments of many social media users when he retweeted the Space Force’s uniform along with a comment about the choice of camouflage pattern.
Unclear on why there’s a need for camouflage…in space… https://t.co/1cHhlAPF6J
— George Takei (@GeorgeTakei) January 18, 2020
Mr. Takei isn’t alone in calling out America’s latest branch for the apparent fashion faux pas. Shortly after the image first hit the Space Force’s official Twitter account, the branch’s name was trending on Twitter, with thousands of people chiming in about the silliness of wearing camouflage for space operations.
While we hate to ruin the fun, there’s actually a number of perfectly logical reasons for the Space Force uniform to have a camouflage pattern, and chief among them is cost. Like just about all government endeavors, creating entirely new uniforms comes with a great deal of associated expense, and seeing as the Space Force doesn’t even have a logo, seal, or emblem officially determined yet, an entirely new uniform is still a ways off. As a result, the Space Force is simply using existing Army and Air Force uniforms with new blue-embroidered name tapes.
The Space Force even said it themselves on Twitter, explaining that the branch was “utilizing current Army/Air Force uniforms, saving costs of designing/producing a new one.”
Of course, cost may be the biggest reason, but it’s not the only one. As the Space Force pointed out, many people still seem to be confused about what the Space Force actually does, and in particular, where its service members will operate.
“Space Operators are on the ground, on Earth working with joint partners like the @usairforce and @USArmy,” The Space Force Twitter account said. “Hence utilizing their uniform.”
The primary role of the Space Force isn’t to mount combat operations in orbit above Earth’s head, nor is it to defend against extra-terrestrial threats. The real role of the Space Force is quite a bit more mundane, but no less essential: monitoring, tracking, and mitigating threats to America’s satellite infrastructure. In other words, the Space Force relies on powerful sensors and ground-based computers to predict and track the orbit of anything that could pose a threat to America’s satellites, including space junk, foreign space crafts, and even purpose-built anti-satellite weapons being fielded by the Russian and Chinese militaries (and others in the future).
In other words, the Space Force’s work is done almost entirely here on the ground, rather than in the black abyss of space, and often in conjunction with other military branches.