First National Space Council Meeting Announced for October 5, 2017

First National Space Council Meeting Announced for October 5, 2017

The White House announced today that the first meeting of the National Space Council will take place on October 5, 2017 at the National Air and Space Museum’s Udvar-Hazy center outside Washington, D.C.  President Trump reestablished the Space Council in June and its first meeting has been much anticipated in the space community.

Vice President Mike Pence speaking at Kennedy Space Center, July 6, 2017. Screengrab from NASA TV.

The Space Council is chaired by Vice President Mike Pence.  During a visit to NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center yesterday, Pence said only that the meeting would take place “in a few short weeks.”   The White House issued a press release this afternoon with the date and location.

The meeting is entitled “Leading the Next Frontier: An Event with the National Space Council.” Experts from the civil, commercial and national security space sectors will speak, but a list of the participants has not yet been released.

Pence said the meeting will bring together all the space sectors “for the first time in a quarter century,” a reference to the fact that the last meeting of a National Space Council was under President George H.W. Bush.  The National Space Council was created in the 1989 NASA Authorization Act, followed by an April 20, 1989 Executive Order from Bush.  It met throughout the Bush presidency, chaired by Vice President Dan Quayle.  The Clinton, George W. Bush and Obama administrations, however, chose not to fund or staff the Space Council although it continued to exist in law.

Scott Pace. Photo credit: George Washington University website.

The Trump Administration reestablished it in June.  Scott Pace, a highly respected member of the space policy community who has served in a number of positions in the government and academia over his career, was named its Executive Secretary in July. Most recently, Pace was Director of the Space Policy Institute at George Washington University.

The members of the Space Council are the following (names in parentheses are the people currently serving in those positions)

  • Vice President, who shall be Chairman (Mike Pence)
  • Secretary of State (Rex Tillerson)
  • Secretary of Defense (James Mattis)
  • Secretary of Commerce (Wilbur Ross)
  • Secretary of Transportation (Elaine Chao)
  • Director of the White House Office of Management and Budget (Mick Mulvaey)
  • Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs (H.R. McMaster)
  • Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (vacant, Michael Kratsios is Deputy Assistant to the President and de facto acting director)
  • Director of National Intelligence (Dan Coats)
  • Secretary of Homeland Security (vacant, Elaine Duke is acting)
  • Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism (Tom Bossert)
  • Administrator of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (vacant, Robert Lightfoot is acting)
  • Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (Gen. Joseph Dunford, Jr.)
  • heads of other executive departments and agencies and other senior officials within the Executive Office of the President as determined by the Chairman

Further details about the meeting are forthcoming.

Many in the space community have high hopes for the Space Council to develop an integrated U.S. space policy and strategy across the civil, commercial and national security space sectors.  Most aspects of space policy are implemented though space programs.  Programs need funding.  Others therefore wonder whether the Space Council, even with the leadership of the Vice President, will be able to extract the funds needed from the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) in debates over Trump Administration budget priorities.

 

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