Soldiers, Sailors, Marines, Airmen and Spacers


"The United States must be prepared to meet the emerging threats in space, which the actions of our global competitors have forced us to consider space as a warfighting domain. The United States Space Force appears to be America’s solution/ This Space Force will need to project power in secure America’s interests beyond the Earth

But what will we call the members of this new service with such a proud and vital mission?

Considering the nicknames of members of the armed services, soldier (Army), marine (Marine Corps), sailor (Navy), airman (Air Force) and guardsman (Coast Guard), there are three categories determining the nicknames: domain, function, or motive power.

Soldier and guardsman are based on the service’s function, that is, what members do. Marine and airman are both based on the domain in which they operate — the sea (naval infantry) and the air, respectively. Sailor is based on sail power, the means by which humans have travelled the sea for most of recorded history.

Nicknames such as “orbiter” or “rocketeer” are examples for names based off of motive power for space. Rocketry and orbits will not be overthrown by any other type of motive power for space in the foreseeable future, but mid- to long-term technological trends may someday yield significantly different forms of motive power. Extensive use of solar or light sails might lead to a new generation of “sailors.”"  The Hill


Since last week we have "United States Space Command" as part of USAF and as a Unified Command under the Unified Command Plan, but it seems clear to me that this will be followed within a year or so with creation of a fifth separate service as the equivalent of ; the army, the navy, airforce and USMC.  The US Coast Guard is actually a law enforcement agency that is uniformed  and armed.  the US Space Force would be a separate service within the civilian Department of the Air Force in the same way that USMC is a separate service within the civilian run Department of the Navy.

The Space Force will be altogether focused on developing US assets in outer space and preparation for support of a warfighting command on earth if this regrettable necessity arises.

Soo, as "The Hill" semi seriously suggests, what will we call the people of the Space Force.

I vote for "spacer."

As Trenchard decided when creating the Royal Air Force (RAF)  during WW1 from the materials of the British Army Flying Corps, a clean break (unfortunate reference) should be made to indicate a radically different point of view.

Yes, "Spacer" would be the thing.  Enlisted ranks could be derived from that.  "Spacer First Class," "Master Spacer," etc.  I suppose there will have to be commissioned officers.  If there are, then once again, the example of the RAF might guide; "Pilot Officer," "Flight Lieutenant," Squadron Leader," etc., as examples rather than the usual thing. 

Uniforms for wear on earth?  I have already suggested black on black as the color scheme to mimic the outer darkness, but for god's sake, no damned neckties.  Some sort of pullover under jackets or tunics would suffice.

I thank "The Hill" for inspiring this conversation,  pl

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26 Responses to Soldiers, Sailors, Marines, Airmen and Spacers

  1. coboarts says:

    “Spacer” At first I thought, naaah… But as I went through your rank name suggestions and contemplated the long-term, it grew on me. In fact, assuming we can get and stay there, there will become a real dichotomy between those who direct their destinies to the stars and those who stay grounded, currently Earth grounded. Since first reading Asimov’s “Foundation Trilogy,” I’ve always wondered if we are a galactic civilization in its breakout phase… or what. Seeing Space X’s dual boosters settling back to Earth seemed to me of archetypal depth. Fermi Paradox -?

  2. ted richard says:

    so, pl so new recruits will be called “space cadets’?
    and they will be riding on russian engines to get into orbit to ‘contain’ those pesky russians and chinamen?
    it is said that history starts as tragedy and repeats as farce or perhaps parody!
    if the folks who gave us the gerald ford carrier and F35 flying brick are the ones conjuring the new space command i for one want to remain firmly remain on the ground.

  3. turcopolier says:

    ted richard
    Good. you probably belong there.

  4. Harper says:

    In line with the Air Force designation “airmen” I’d say the equivalent would be “spacemen.” “Space Cadets” already taken.

  5. turcopolier says:

    Harper et al
    “Cadets” are people training to be officers.

  6. Quartered Safe Out Here says:

    Agree with the pullovers, tunics and such. In over 50 years of Star Trek, all the generations, iterations, prequels, sequels, live and animated, that was the standard dress, work or formal. If it was good enough for Spock, it’s good enough for me.
    Did you notice that in all those uniforms, nobody had pockets? Not one. Gives The Things They Carried a whole new meaning. Live long and prosper.

  7. Clueless Joe says:

    As a life-long fan of Isaac Asimov, I’ve no choice but to support “Spacer” – though before taking a final decision, we should keep in mind that’s the one space civilization that went full robotic and eventually stagnated.

  8. whynotvoyager? says:

    Voyagers… after all, you had a famous Voyager not too long ago did you not?

  9. ambrit says:

    The idea of black turtleneck pullovers reminds me of the ‘outfits’ worn by Cousteau’s divers in the olden days of undersea exploration. The analogy is apt because, as one descends into the depths of the ocean here on Earth, the temperature drops, and warm clothing becomes necessary. the same could be said of space outside the atmosphere. So, black turtleneck pullovers are both ‘stylish’ and practical. As you remarked several days ago, the formal uniform will be partly public relations oriented, so, the ‘sharper’ the better. Also, since I see civilian astronauts usually pictured in their bright white space suits, (another public relations coup, that,) a different colour for the military, and, let us not forget, police forces of space is necessary. All those ‘Tales of the Space Patrol’ have done their job in setting the image of the “benevolent guardians of the space lanes” in the public psyche. Think big here. Terran humans are psychologically ready for the next step up and out.
    After the gradual let down from the heights of ‘2001’ and similar stories set in, I was afraid that I would not live to see humans living in space, other than on our globe. Now I have some hope restored.
    A really tricky but plausible term for the Space Force personnel would be “Guardians.” Initially a bit ‘much,’ but, as the competing forces from the East come into their own in space, the terms overall psychological benefits would be well worth the initial “embarrassment.”

  10. walrus says:


  11. charly says:

    Secretaries, because they only work from office.

  12. Chiron says:

    How about “Spacy” like US Spacy as the name of the service?

  13. I think a lot will depend on the focus of the Space Force. What will the Space Force be training and equipping its forces to do? Launch pad and mission control operations? Will a large part of the Space Force be engineers and technicians? A part of the plan is to have NRO fall directly under SPACECOM in time of war. Their mission is to develop, acquire, launch and operate. Will those become Space Force functions? Even when these spacers eventually move into space, they will be primarily be doing mission control and launch operations from space stations and bases on the Moon and asteroids. Their heritage will be pocket protectors and slide rules. Should their uniforms reflect this heritage?
    I think space commerce may be akin to armed merchantman whether they be robotic or manned. Perhaps Musk and others are already thinking about this. Until we start living in space on a permanent basis, one of the greatest needs for a Space Force will be to assist these merchantmen running the possible blockade of near Earth orbit from their mission control centers and launch pads. Perhaps even Musk will be designing some kind of blockade runner. I’m wondering what kind of outfit these future blockade runners will wear. Space pirates of some sort?

  14. Diana C says:

    I will be thinking about this question all night now. The chance to travel in outer space was one of my greatest hopes. At my age now, I doubt if I will achieve that dream.
    I have some concern about using “space cadet” or “space” as terms to designate the lucky people who would join this force. “space cadet,” as many high school teachers might be able to tell you is a term used mostly for clueless teenagers who seem to have nothing but space in their heads. “Spacey” is often used to describe someone who may be on drugs or is simply not thinking clearly.
    I am almost at the point of preferring the “Elton John idea, or the designation Trump gave the leader of North Korea. How about “rocketeer”?
    I am not committed to that suggestion. I’ll be thinking about it for some time. Now I have a chance to hope one of my little grandsons will become a member of this force–or even my feisty little granddaughters.

  15. Unhinged Citizen says:

    I think you gentlemen are forgetting the fundamental strategic parameter in this new space force equation… How does this benefit Israel and her security?

  16. Bill H says:

    I was going to suggest that persons enrolled in the Space Academy would be known as “space cadets,” which might not have irritated you quite as much as Harper et al did, but probably would not have met with your approval. I was resisting, but finally lost control of myself. Sorry.

  17. Bill H says:

    The Navy enlisted uniform, known today as “Crackerjacks,” had two pockets, one in the trousers and one in the jumper, but we were not allowed to put anything in them. Had anyone called the uniform by that name when I was serving, we would have decked them.

  18. Terry says:

    I think their is a little fight left in the original English settlers.
    Spacer is a great new horizon.

  19. anon says:

    Anyone posting here live near Rehoboth in Delaware.As a spacer myself I have a feeling Dorian is heading that way.Hope I am wrong

  20. ambrit says:

    The science fiction writer Poul Anderson deals with this dimension of the space faring milieu in his 1960 novel, “The High Crusade.” One of the ‘inside jomes’ in the book deals with the “Imperial Israeli Space Navy.”
    ‘Things’ haven’t changed much, have they.

  21. turcopolier says:

    TTG et al
    consider the possibility that the US has more hardware than is currently visible.

  22. I’m sure we have more hardware than is visible. I assume, or hope, the AF and NRO have plans and hardware to rapidly replace our current space assets if those assets are taken out in a conflict. I also assume we have the means to take out enemy space assets. The hardware is satellites, launch vehicles, ASAT missiles and maybe lasers. We also have the mysterious X-37, all robotic. Whatever that thing does, I bet there’s more of them or something similar.

  23. Peter Williams says:

    If they are using Russian Engines, then obviously they are Cosmonauts 😉

  24. charly says:

    NRO mission is reconnaissances. For that you could use satellites but also planes, drones & balloons. During a war with a pear (or even states like Iran) those satellites are likely to be gone and replaced by earth bound observations

  25. casey says:

    A case could be made that the environment in which the Space Force would operate is much like the one submariners operate in: cold, dark and damned dangerous. Also, a small crew packed into a tight space where mistakes could lead to sudden death is also like the submariner experience. So, I would suggest Space Mariner.

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