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Utah could get its own Space Force under proposed bill

In this photo released by the U.S. Air Force, Capt. Ryan Vickers stands for a photo to display his new service tapes after taking his oath of office to transfer from the U.S. Air Force to the U.S. Space Force at Al-Udeid Air Base, Qatar, Tuesday, Sept. 1, 2020. (Staff Sgt. Kayla White/U.S. Air Force via AP)

SALT LAKE CITY — Utah could get its own Space Force added to the ranks of its armed forces under proposed legislation in the 2021 General Session. 

Under HB57, sponsored by Rep. Jefferson Burton, the state would add Space Force to the list of official definition of armed forces — right alongside the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps and Coast Guard. The House Law and Enforcement and Criminal Justice Committee voted unanimously to recommend the bill to the legislature. 

“The whole idea behind this is it will add opportunity, or potential opportunities, to the state of Utah with regard to defense appropriation,” Burton, retired major general of the Utah National Guard, told the House Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice Committee Friday.

The bill would allow Hill Air Force Base and the Utah National Guard to become part of the U.S. Space Force, the latest military branch created by former President Donald Trump. By doing so, Burton said the branch would increase opportunities and allow for the creation of more businesses in the state. 

“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.”