WASHINGTON — President Trump launched the Pentagon’s new Space Command, an effort to better organize and advance the military’s vast operations in space that could cost as much as $800 million over the next five years.

Trump signed a one-page memorandum Tuesday authorizing the Defense Department to create the new command. Speaking at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, Vice President Mike Pence said, “A new era of American national security in space begins today.”

The goal is to set up a command to oversee and organize space operations, accelerate technical advances and find more effective ways to defend U.S. assets in space, including the vast constellations of satellites that American forces rely on for navigation, communications and surveillance. The move comes amid growing concerns that China and Russia are working on ways to disrupt, disable or even destroy U.S. satellites.

The new order is separate from the president’s much touted goal of creating a “space force” as an independent armed service branch, but is considered a first step in that direction.

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