I Asked the Head of Space Force What the Agency Has Done for Me Lately

Gen. John Raymond has put up with plenty of mockery. But, he says, there’s nothing funny about protecting U.S. interests from Russian and Chinese anti-satellite technology.

March 8, 2021

When Space Force was announced by President Trump, late-night hosts had a field day. Jimmy Kimmel joked that the action filmmaker Michael Bay “is on board to direct the whole thing.” But for Gen. John Raymond — the agency’s actual director who has served in the military for over three decades — space is no joke. And there’s nothing funny about protecting American interests from Russian and Chinese anti-satellite technology.

“We do our business kind of quietly,” the four-star general says, meaning anything from monitoring “space debris” to operating missile-warning radars. But no, the general says, Space Force guardians do not “fly around with lasers fighting aliens.”

In this episode of “Sway,” Kara asks the general to explain the “warfighting” threats in space, the privatization of space, Space Force’s association with Trump — and what it’s like for him to be played by Steve Carell in a Netflix comedy.

I Asked the Head of Space Force What the Agency Has Done for Me Lately 13
Credit…Illustration by The New York Times; photograph, via U.S. Space Force

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Special thanks to Shannon Busta and Liriel Higa.

“Sway” is produced by Nayeema Raza, Heba Elorbany, Matt Kwong, Daphne Chen and Vishakha Darbha, and edited by Nayeema Raza and Paula Szuchman; fact-checking by Kate Sinclair; music and sound design by Isaac Jones; mixing by Erick Gomez.