The Space Symposium focused Tuesday on three military organizations with names so similar, it's hard to keep track. But they're in the news as the Pentagon and Trump administration increasingly fear that the U.S. could fall behind rivals Russia and China in orbit.
Here's a cheat sheet.
• The Air Force Space Command, at Peterson Air Force Base, has been the military's leading space headquarters for 17 years. But as the name says, it only does "Air Force" things. Essentially, it trains the Air Force's space troops and buys the satellites they fly.
• The U.S. Space Command would oversee space efforts by all armed services. As a "combatant command," it would be to space what U.S. Central Command has been to Iraq and Afghanistan: the unit that leads fighting and war plans for space. If the name sounds familiar, you've been in town a while. U.S. Space Command was at Peterson from the 1980s until 2002, when it was closed in a Pentagon shuffle. The U.S. Space Command has been approved by Congress and is being built in Colorado Springs. A permanent home is being decided.
• The Space Force, proposed by an Alabama congressman in 2017 and embraced by President Donald Trump, would be a separate armed service for space, with about 20,000 troops and a headquarters in Washington, D.C. The Pentagon and the Air Force at first resisted the proposal but since have lined up behind Trump. But the Space Force plan faces wary lawmakers in Congress, including some majority House Democrats who could see it defeated.