Space Force officials announced this week that eligible active-duty personnel will receive an email from the Air Force Personnel Center on May 1 announcing the opening of the application process.
"This is a historic time to be in the space business, and I could not be more excited to extend the opportunity to our active-duty Air Force members to officially transfer into the Space Force," Gen. Jay Raymond, chief of space operations for the Space Force and head of U.S. Space Command, said in a release Wednesday. "We have the unique opportunity to create a new service; your energy, passion and expertise will be critical to our success."
The sixth and newest military service, which was signed into existence by President Donald Trump on Dec. 20, 2019, is now operating with the aid of some 16,000 airmen detailed on a temporary basis from what was formerly known as Air Force Space Command.
Although individuals were assigned in December, the May 1 opening "includes the physical act of [commissioning] into the U.S. Space Force," Gen. David "DT" Thompson, vice commander of Space Force, said Thursday. Enlisted members would re-enlist directly into the Space Force, he said during a webinar, hosted by Space News.
Thompson said Air Force space operators who request a transfer will more than likely be accepted into the Space Force. Jobs including space operations (13S) and space systems operations (1C6) are considered "organic space career fields."
"That's about 6,000 to 7,000 people," he said. The transfers are set to begin Sept. 1.
If airmen in those career fields decline transfer into the Space Force, they can work with their chain of command to examine other options "to include applying for retraining into another Air Force specialty, applying to crossflow into the Guard or Reserve, or applying for separation or retirement, if eligible," the release states.
"In the meantime, those service members will remain in the Air Force and may be assigned duties in the Space Force" until the formal transitioning of units is complete, expected to be some time in 2022, officials said.
Airmen in the intelligence (14N), cyberspace operations (17X), developmental engineer (62E), acquisition manager (63A), operations intelligence (1N0), geospatial intelligence (1N1), signals intelligence (1N2), fusion analyst (1N4), targeting analyst (1N8), cyberspace support (3D0) and client systems (3D1) career fields are also eligible to apply.
"We have a requirement for a set number of those," Thompson said, meaning only a limited number of billets will be available.
Air Force and Space Force leaders are developing a plan to select these volunteers for transfer "based on mission needs and career sustainment," according to the release. Airmen selected from those specialties will begin transfer on Feb. 1, 2021, it adds.
Guardsmen and reservists who are already executing space missions and currently aligned with the Space Force will continue supporting it; officials are weighing how best to incorporate them. A Space Force Reserve component is still being determined, the release states.
The application window will close May 31. Thompson stressed the specific initiative so far is "targeted for the Air Force."
Soldiers, sailors and Marines may have to wait a little longer until the Air Force completes its initial transitions, he explained.
"There is a general authority for all members of other services to always ask to cross-commission; that's an authority that already exists," Thompson said. "But before [the Space Force] actively engages with the Army and the Navy, we need to make sure through the secretary of defense, through the joint chiefs of staff and through the leaders of the services ... how we're going to take that approach, and who should be eligible to be directly asked or not.
"That's work [that still needs] to be done," he said.
Airmen who believe they are eligible but do not receive an email to apply should contact the Total Force Service Center or the Air Force Personnel Center.