On October 5, in the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center of the National Museum of Aeronautics and Astronautics (Chantilly, VA) Vice-President Michael Pence opened the meeting of the National Space Council.
The National Space Council was established in 1989 by the decree of President G.Bush. It worked until 1993. However, under the next administration, while continuing to exist legally, it actually didn't work. The meeting, which is the first for more than twenty years is significant and opens a new page in the development of the national space program. According to Senator J.Brandenstein, who was recently nominated to the head of NASA, the revived Council "will help to accelerate and streamline the decision-making process in this area and will provide support for the necessary regulatory changes."
The main objective of the National Space Council is revision policy, as well as establishing "close cooperation, coordination, technology, and information sharing between government agencies and the private sector." The Council is headed by the Vice-President, and its members include the heads of all key ministries: the Ministry of Defence, National Intelligence, National Security Ministry, State Department, ministries of Trade and Transport, NASA, and others. In addition, the "Group of advisers", which will include experts and representatives of the leading American space companies, is also established. The Group will implement external consulting. But in the new phase the focus will shift to the promotion of the interests of industry and non-Federal agencies.
The powers of the Council cover both conceptual issues of long-term strategy in the field of civil and military space, and the monitoring and coordination of national space policy. One of the priorities of the Council is preparation until mid-2018 the vision for a new space policy and strategy.
At the meeting on October 5, Vice-President M.Pence in his opening speech, noting the recognized U.S. leadership in science and technology, and in particular, in the field of space, said that this leadership was under the threat. He also highlighted the apathy of the space policy of the previous administration and the lack of a coherent strategy, declaring that in the coming years, America needs to recover its lost grounds.
Vice-President outlined the key directions of the new national strategy:
– restore the leading position of the USA and NASA in the field of deep space exploration; manned missions to the moon, which will become the foundation for the journey to Mars in the future;
– ensuring national security in the light of the increased threats to critical orbital infrastructure and the need for the development and implementation of new technologies;
– development of a commercial space sector in the US and maintaining a permanent human presence in low earth orbit on the basis of commercial infrastructure.
In contrast of Barack Obama, who made science and space one of the main points of his election campaign in 2008, Trump didn’t focused on issues of space policy during the presidential race. Despite this, during the Obama administration funding for the space was reduced, while in accordance with the draft budget for 2018 of the Trump administration, NASA is one of the few state agencies whose funding is virtually didn’t reduce.