SALT LAKE CITY — Utah could get its own Space Force thanks to a bill being considered by the Utah Legislature.
HB57, sponsored by Rep. Jefferson Burton, R-Salem, would add "Space Force" to the definition of armed forces in Utah code, along with the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard.
The bill would enable Hill Air Force Base and the Utah National Guard to have opportunities to be a part of the United States Space Force, the space services branch of the U.S. armed forces created by former President Donald Trump.
"The whole idea behind this is it will add opportunity, or potential opportunities, to the state of Utah with regard to defense appropriation," Burton, who is a retired major general of the Utah National Guard, told the House Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice Committee on Friday.
By adding Space Force to Utah's definition of armed forces, Burton said it would allow for "more missions and more businesses may be added to the state by being a part of the Space Force."
When Rep. Kelly Miles, R-South Ogden, asked what the Space Force does, Burton said now that 29,000 satellites orbit the Earth, "it became apparent that space is being weaponized."
"Some people may think of 'Star Trek' when they think of Space Force," Burton said. "But the idea is to protect our assets in space. So essentially what's happening is members of the U.S. Air Force are being converted to this new Space Force.
"And we just need to be a part of that, because it's like the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard — now Space Force."
The House Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice Committee voted unanimously to favorably recommend the bill. It now goes to the full House for consideration.
The Space Force currently lives as a branch within the Department of the Air Force. Last month it was announced that its members will be known as "guardians."
"Soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines and guardians will be defending our nation for generations to come," then-Vice President Mike Pence said at an event celebrating the first anniversary of the U.S. Space Force.