Details of Space Council’s Upcoming Space Force Meeting Emerge

Details of Space Council’s Upcoming Space Force Meeting Emerge

The National Space Council released a few more details today about its upcoming meeting on October 23.  As Vice President Mike Pence tweeted last week, the focus is on progress made and next steps to implement President Trump’s intention to create a Space Force as a new military department.

The meeting will take place at Roosevelt Hall of the National War College, part of the National Defense University at Ft. McNair in Washington, DC.

Vice President Mike Pence speaks at the Pentagon, August 9, 2018, explaining President Trump’s vision for the Space Force. Screengrab.

It will begin at 11:30 am ET, just two and a half hours after Pence participates in a Washington Post Live “Transformers” event across town.  He will be interviewed by Bob Costa, Washington Post national political reporter and host of PBS’s Washington Week.  That interview also is about the Space Force.

The two hour (11:30 am – 1:30 pm ET) Space Council meeting will be livestreamed on the White House live website ( and on NASA TV.

The Washington Post event, which features a number of speakers in addition to Pence, is from 9:00-11:30 am ET and also will be livestreamed, so those watching from their desks can switch from that to the Space Council meeting without a missing a beat, not an option for anyone wanting to attend both in person.

The Council has not made public which Council members will attend, who will speak, or whether any directives or other documents will be produced.

This is the fourth meeting of the National Space Council, which was reestablished by President Trump last year.  It was created in the 1989 NASA Authorization Act and President George H. W. Bush issued an Executive Order in April 1989 laying out its duties and membership.  It met throughout his presidency, but Presidents Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama chose not to fund or staff the Council. They used other White House offices to formulate space policy and coordinate its implementation.

The Vice President chairs the Council.  Other members are:

  • Secretary of State
  • Secretary of Defense
  • Secretary of Commerce
  • Secretary of Transportation
  • Director of the White House Office of Management and Budget
  • Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs
  • Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy
  • Director of National Intelligence
  • Secretary of Homeland Security
  • Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism
  • Administrator of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration
  • Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff
  • heads of other executive departments and agencies and other senior officials within the Executive Office of the President as determined by the Chairman

The Council met on October 9, 2017, February 21, 2018, and June 18, 2018.

It was at the June 18 meeting that President Trump made his interest in creating a Space Force unequivocally clear.  He had mentioned it several times previously, but that day he not only clarified that he intended to create a sixth military department, not just reorganize the Air Force, and directed Gen. Joseph Dunford, Jr., Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, to “immediately begin the process.”

Much has happened since then.  On August 9, Pence laid out more details of the President’s vision to create the new Department of the Space Force by 2020, as well as a separate unified combatant command, a U.S. Space Command (not the subunified command called by the 2019 National Defense Authorization Act, which would be part of U.S. Strategic Command); a Space Development Agency; a Space Operations Force; and a new Assistant Secretary of Defense for Space.

A memo from Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson outlining the Air Force’s view of what the Space Force should include, complete with a $12.9 billion pricetag, raised a lot of eyebrows, and the Space Force idea overall faces resistance in Congress.  The President cannot unilaterally create a new military department.  Congress must pass required legislation and fund it.  Its fate may depend on the outcome of next month’s elections.


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