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National Space Council Reestablished

Tuesday, July 11, 2017 - 08:49

On 30 June 2017, the President signed a new executive order to reestablish the National Space Council. The National Space Council stopped being active in 1993 when its functions were absorbed by the National Science and Technology Council. During his remarks prior to signing the executive order, the President acknowledged the importance of space exploration: "Space exploration is not only essential to our character as a nation but also [to] our economy and our great nation's security." The President continued by noting that, "Our travels beyond the Earth propel scientific discoveries that improve our lives in countless ways right here at home, powering vast new industiries, spurring incredible new technology..."

In a statement released shortly after the executive order was signed, acting NASA Administrator Robert Lightfoot said that he "is pleased that President Trump has signed an executive order reestablishing the National Space Council."

During remarks at NASA Kennedy on 6 July 2017, the Vice President said that the executive order will "guide a new era of space leadership by the United States of America," and that the Council "will restore our confidence and the confidence that we can and will achieve the impossible."

Council Membership

The National Space Council will be chaired by the Vice President. Other members of the Council are:

  • Secretary of State;
  • Secretary of Defense;
  • Secretary of Commerce;
  • Secretary of Transportation;
  • Secretary of Homeland Security;
  • Director of National Intelligence;
  • Director of the Office of Management and Budget;
  • Assistant to the President for National Security  Affairs;
  • Administrator of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration;
  • Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy;
  • Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism; and
  • Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

The chair may decide to invite the heads of other executive departments and agencies and other senior officials within the Executive Office of the President to participate in the Council.

Council Functions

The Council shall advise and assist the President regarding national space policy and strategy, and perform such other duties as the President may, from time to time, prescribe.

The Council will review US space policy and develop a long-term strategy for national space activities. This will include developing space policy recommendations, fostering "close coordination, cooperation, and technology and information exchange among the civil, national security, and commercial space sectors," and advising on international space activities.

To ensure that the interests of industries and other non-Federal entities are adequately represented in the Council, the executive order creates a user's advisory group of "non-Federal representatives of industries and other persons involved in aeronautical and space activities."

The Council will submit an annual report "setting forth its assessment of, and recommendations for, the space policy and strategy of US."

During his remarks at NASA Kennedy on 6 July 2017, the Vice President indicated that the user's advisory group will be named in the next few weeks, with the first meeting of the National Space Council before the end of the summer.

Additional Information

Heather Bloemhard
John N. Bahcall Public Policy Fellow
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