"Every banking transaction requires a GPS signal for timing," Jim Bridenstine said in an interview. "You lose the GPS signal and guess what you lose? You lose banking."
"If you look at what space is, it's not that much different than the ocean," added Bridenstine, who made 333 aircraft-carrier landings as a Navy pilot. "It's an international domain that has commerce that needs to be protected."
Bridenstine was in his third term representing a congressional district in Oklahoma when Trump nominated him to lead the $21 billion space agency. He was confirmed in the spring despite criticism over his lack of scientific or engineering experience and his previous statements questioning climate change science -- though he said in hearings that human activity was the chief cause of global warming.
Last summer, when he was still in Congress, Bridenstine supported a measure that would have created a "space corps." It passed the House but was removed from the final defense spending bill. Then last month, Trump called for the Pentagon to develop a sixth branch of the American armed services that would protect national and commercial interests in space.
Hold Your Rockets: Trump Space Force Could Take Years to Launch
Trump's surprise announcement caught Pentagon officials and members of Congress off guard. The Defense Department already has several major programs in the works and the Air Force has contended that a new branch was not necessary for space defense. Senator Bill Nelson, a Florida Democrat who once took part in a space shuttle mission, tweeted: "generals tell me they don't want" it and "now is NOT the time to rip the Air Force apart."