Why is the Space Force mission so important? Well, in a nutshell, because it protects the GPS that lets your phone tell you you missed your exit on your way to that new fish taco joint. At least that’s the response given by two guards in a new recruiting ad for the service that aired Tuesday.
“I think it’s important because we use it in everyday life, for example the GPS we use every day,” Space Force intelligence officer Captain Pierre Jones said in the new advertisement, where he and another Guardian were asked about the reasons for the Space Force’s mission. is so important.
“The most important thing that Space Force supports, from a civilian perspective, is that we have a GPS,” said Captain Natalia Pinto, space operations officer. “It’s something that is operated by an individual, businesses, banks, all kinds of financial institutions. So from the outside it’s probably the most important thing we rely on.
Pinto is right: the 24 satellites that make up the Global Positioning System are responsible for everything from finding your way to the restaurant, maintaining your electricity, and running the ATM when you need more cash. to pay for all those fish tacos. Oh, GPS also probably helped the fishermen who caught these fish bring their loot back to port; and it could also have helped the farmer who grew the corn from which the tortillas were made to understand where to plant his crops.
While it is difficult to estimate the exact cost of a GPS disruption in terms of dollars and cents, it has been widely reported that a problem of a few millionths or one hundred thousandths of a second can disrupt bank payments, stock markets, telecommunications networks. , power grids and countless other essential aspects of our daily lives.
“Applying economic value to GPS has become almost as impossible as tying the value of other utilities,” writes Greg Milner in his book Pinpoint: How GPS is Changing Technology, Culture, and Our Minds. “How much money do electricity and telephones generate? What is the value of oxygen for the human respiratory system?
So yeah, silly as it sounds, there’s a lot of point in making sure those humble GPS satellites keep buzzing. But protecting them is hard work. In fact, the interviews with the guards took place near the end of a new advertisement called “Space is Hard,” which the service unveiled at the 36th Space Symposium in Colorado Springs, Colorado. The first part of the ad featured Chief of Space Operations General John “Jay” Raymond, explaining why outer space is much more difficult today than it was before.
“Previously all we had to worry about was astrophysics, Kepler’s Law, gamma rays, solar flares, rocket science, black holes, and the theory of relativity,” Raymond said in the middle. from a montage of cool space images. This list of problems sounds pretty complicated, “but now we also have to track about 30,000 objects orbiting at over 17,500 miles per hour,” Raymond said.
“And our whole way of life depends on us to protect our satellites from attacks, day and night,” the general added. “So yes, space is difficult.”
The Space Force is 20 months old and has around 4,840 uniformed personnel, making it the newest and by far the smallest branch of the military (the next smallest is the Coast Guard, with approximately 48,000 members in active and reserve service). The branch hopes to reach 20,000 members over the next two years, but to do so may need to fill a public relations gap.
“One of the biggest things we have to get over is that there is a Netflix series that pokes fun at the Space Force,” Mandy Smithberger, director of the Center for Defense Information at Project On Government Oversight, told Defense News in January. “If the public has thought of all of this, the reputation of the Space Force – in the public imagination – is one of incompetence.”
“The way the Space Force has been presented to the general public has not been healthy,” also told Defense News Todd Harrison, director of the Defense Budget Analysis Program and Aerospace Security Project at the Center for International and Strategic Studies. “It didn’t help educate people about what the military is doing in space. This has caused more people to become confused as to what Space Force does versus what NASA does. “
Space Force is working on it. Just four days ago, the service launched its own recruiting Twitter and YouTube accounts (previously it was part of the joint US Air Force and Space Force social media accounts). Earlier this month, the first group of future Space Force recruiters completed a five-day training course at Space Force Base Vandenberg, Calif. The service has recruited nearly 400 enlisted guards and 250 officers so far in fiscal 2021, but it hopes to secure another 500 in the coming year. That’s what ads like “Space is Hard” are for.
“This ad highlights the essential mission our Guardians accomplish every day to defend this nation and how essential space is to everything we do in daily life and modern warfare,” Raymond said in a statement. Press. “We need talented, high-caliber recruits to help us deal not only with the physical challenges we face in space, but also the threats posed by our potential adversaries.”
At the end of “Space is Hard,” the tagline “Guardians Wanted” flashed on the screen before a separate segment began. The second segment, which was also posted on the US Air Force and Space Force recruiting Facebook page, features face-to-face interviews with Jones, Pinto, and a few other tutors.
The purpose of the ad appears to be to humanize the Guardians, in part by asking them what their favorite random space fact is. Jones said it was because the moon has no wind. Pinto said it was the fact that the International Space Station was traveling at 16,000 miles per hour and circling the Earth every 92 minutes or so, and Spec. 3 Jake Robertson said satellites will fall from space if they travel less than 17,500 miles per hour. (For those who may be wondering what a “Spec 3” is, this is Specialist 3 – part of the new Space Force rank structure.)
Overall, the subtext of the “Space is difficult” ads appears to be “Space is difficult to explain”.
It’s hard to explain what the Space Force does in a 30-second TV spot trying to convince a high school or college student that they should enlist. By comparison, other branches have it easy: they can show a Marine storming a beach or an army helicopter slicing through the sky. But Space Force must explain why an invisible satellite floating thousands of miles above your head is essential to your lifestyle. To make matters more difficult, the Space Force likely won’t be sending Guardians into space in the immediate future, so they can’t do the Space Cowboy ambulatory pitch just yet.
In previous commercials, the Space Force has harnessed the sense of wonder many of us get when we look at the night sky; or the promise of creating a sci-fi future as it unfolds. The “Space is Hard” commercial and the interviews that follow it seem to bring these ideas back from the great sky to Earth in the form of real people like Raymond, Pinto and Jones.
“It gives you the opportunity to surpass yourself, to challenge yourself,” said Pinto, of joining the Space Force. The benefits are extraordinary, as members can “be a part of something that has an impact outside of Earth’s atmosphere,” she added.
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