GOP Highlights Trump’s Space Achievements So Far, But No Hints About Second Term

GOP Highlights Trump’s Space Achievements So Far, But No Hints About Second Term

Today the Republican National Committee highlighted President Trump’s achievements on a range of foreign policy and trade issues that also included the space program.  Summarizing the various space policies and strategies issued by the White House over the past three and a half years, and creation of the Space Force, it offers no hint on his plans for a second term if he is reelected.

The document provides snapshots of his Space Policy Directives accompanied by favorable comments, especially in comparison to the Obama Administration, from a variety of sources.

At least some of those comments require further context, however.  For example, it cites this website as stating that the Trump National Security Strategy, issued in 2017, has “substantially more” about space than President Obama’s 2015 strategy.

That is correct, but that was because Obama had already released a National Space Policy and a National Security Space Strategy before the National Security Strategy.

For the record, the full text of what we wrote about Trump’s National Security Strategy on December 19, 2017 is as follows:

Space is not a focus of [Trump’s] 55-page document, but there is substantially more than in Obama’s 2015 strategy.  That may be because Obama issued a National Space Policy in 2010 that contained extensive guidance about U.S. civil, commercial, national security, and cross-sector space activities, followed by a National Security Space Strategy in 2011. Trump has not issued similar guidance yet.  Therefore what was released today is the most formal statement to date of Trump’s views on these issues, although he, Vice President Mike Pence, who chairs the White House National Space Council, and other administration officials have expressed many of them already.

Setting aside whether the quoted comments from others are fairly portrayed or not, it is interesting that the GOP chose to include space in a document that is mostly about foreign policy, but did not emphasize the role the space program plays in that arena. No reference is made of the International Space Station, about to celebrate its 20th anniversary of human occupancy, not to mention the contribution international partners are expected to play in the Artemis program.

In fact, not only does the name Artemis not appear at all, but only private sector, not international, partners get a shout-out. “In December 2017, President Trump signed the White House Space Policy Directive 1, providing for U.S.-led integrated program with private sector partners for a human return to the moon, followed by missions to Mars and beyond.”

Also missing is an indication of what a second Trump term might bring for space activities.  That typically would be included in a party platform, but the GOP chose not to write one for this election cycle.  Instead it simply re-endorsed the one it had in 2016, although it did release a bullet list of “core priorities” that included “Launch Space Force, Establish Permanent Manned Presence on The Moon and Send the First Manned Mission to Mars.”

The Democratic Party Platform has one paragraph about its plans for space:

Democrats continue to support the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and are committed to continuing space exploration and discovery. We believe in continuing the spirit of discovery that has animated NASA’s human space exploration, in addition to its scientific and medical research, technological innovation, and educational mission that allows us to better understand our own planet and place in the universe. We will strengthen support for the United States’ role in space through our continued presence on the International Space Station, working in partnership with the international community to continue scientific and medical innovation. We support NASA’s work to return Americans to the moon and go beyond to Mars, taking the next step in exploring our solar system. Democrats additionally support strengthening NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Earth observation missions to better understand how climate change is impacting our home planet.


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