The National Space Council is a body within the Executive Office of the President of the United States that was created in 1989 during the administration of George H.W. Bush, disbanded in 1993, and re-established in June 2017 by President Donald Trump. It is a modified version of the earlier National Aeronautics and Space Council (1958–1973).
The National Space Council operates as an office of policy development and handles a portfolio of civil, commercial, national security, and international space policy matters. The Vice President of the United States chairs the council, which is composed of cabinet-level members and supported by a Users’ Advisory Group.
National Aeronautics and Space Council (NASC)
Established by the National Aeronautics and Space Act of 1958, the NASC was chaired by the President of the United States (then Dwight Eisenhower). Other members included the Secretaries of State and Defense, the NASA Administrator, the Chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission, plus up to four additional members (one from the federal government and up to three from private industry) chosen at the President's discretion.
The Council was allowed to employ a staff to be headed by a civilian executive secretary. Eisenhower did not use the NASC extensively during the remainder of his term, and recommended at the end of his last year in office, that it be abolished. He did not fill the post of executive secretary but named an acting secretary on loan from NASA. Shortly before assuming office, President-elect John F. Kennedy announced that he wanted his Vice President, Lyndon Johnson, to become chairman of the NASC, requiring an amendment to the Space Act.
Edward C. Welsh was the first executive secretary of the NASC, appointed in 1961 by President John F. Kennedy. Welsh, who as a legislative aide to Senator Stuart Symington (D-Missouri) helped draft the 1958 legislation that created NASA and the NASC, spent the 1960s as the principal advisor to the White House on space issues. He also assisted in the development of the legislation that created the Communications Satellite Corporation (COMSAT). After his retirement in 1969, he remained active as an advisor to NASA.
National Space Council
- The Secretary of State;
- The Secretary of the Treasury;
- The Secretary of Defense;
- The Secretary of Commerce;
- The Secretary of Transportation;
- The Director of the OMB;
- The Chief of Staff to the President;
- The Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs;
- The Assistant to the President for Science and Technology;
- The Director of Central Intelligence; and
- The Administrator of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.
On February 12, 1992, friction between the largely astronaut-based management at NASA and the National Space Council led to Richard Truly, then NASA Administrator and a former astronaut, being forced out. Truly was forced out after Vice President Quayle and the space council's executive director, Mark J. Albrecht, enlisted the aid of Samuel K. Skinner, the White House chief of staff, in urging Pres. Bush to remove Truly. Quayle and the council staff made the move because they felt Truly would impede a new plan to restructure and streamline many aspects of the space program, including the space agency administration.
In August 2008, when campaigning for president, Barack Obama promised to re-establish the National Aeronautics and Space Council. However, he completed two terms as president without having done so.
In October 2016, Robert Smith Walker and Peter Navarro, two senior policy advisers to GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump, wrote in an op-ed in SpaceNews that if elected, Trump would reinstitute a national space policy council headed by the vice president. In the first year of the Trump administration, Vice President Mike Pence indicated that the space council would be re-established, and would have a significant involvement in the direction of America's activities in space. On June 30, 2017, President Trump signed an executive order for such a reestablishment. Following its re-institution, the council met for the first time on October 5, 2017 at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum's Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center.
List of meetings of the Revived National Space Council chaired by Vice President Mike Pence:
- 1st meeting Published on Oct 5, 2017 at Chantilly, VA 
- 2nd meeting Published on Feb 21, 2018 at Cape Canaveral, FL 
- 3rd meeting Published on Jun 18, 2018 at The White House, Washington DC 
- 4th meeting took place on Oct 23, 2018 at the National War College 
- 5th meeting is planned for March 26, 2019 at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama.
The revived National Space Council consists of the following members:
- Vice President of the United States, chair
- 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 Budget and Management
- National Security Advisor
- Administrator of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration
- Homeland Security Advisor
- Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff
National Space Council Users Advisory Group
On February 20, 2018, Vice President Mike Pence, Chairman of the National Space Council announced the candidates selected to serve on the National Space Council Users Advisory Group. Pending official appointment by the Administrator of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, the selected members of the Users Advisory Group will serve to fulfill President Trump's mandate to "foster close coordination, cooperation, and technology and information exchange" across our nation's space enterprise. The announcement was made on the eve of the second meeting of the National Space Council. "Moon, Mars, and Worlds Beyond: Winning the Next Frontier" includes testimonials from leaders in the civil, commercial, and national security sectors about the importance of the United States' space enterprise.
Selection to the National Space Council Users Advisory Group:
- Buzz Aldrin, Gemini 12 and Apollo 11 astronaut
- Tory Bruno, President and CEO of United Launch Alliance
- Wes Bush, CEO of Northrop Grumman
- Dean Cheng, Senior Research Fellow, Asian Studies Center, Davis Institute for National Security and Foreign Policy of the Heritage Foundation
- Eileen Collins, 4-time Space Shuttle astronaut, first female Space Shuttle commander
- Steve Crisafulli, Former Speaker of the Florida House of Representatives
- Mary Lynne Dittmar, President and CEO of the Coalition for Deep Space Exploration
- James O. Ellis, Retired United States Navy Admiral, former head of STRATCOM, and member of the Space Foundation Board of Directors
- Tim Ellis, CEO of Relativity Space
- Newt Gingrich, former Speaker of the House
- Marillyn Hewson, CEO of Lockheed Martin
- Homer Hickam, Author of Rocket Boys and former NASA Marshall Spaceflight Center engineer
- Kay Ivey, Governor of Alabama
- Fred Klipsch, Founder and Chairman of Hoosiers for Quality Education
- Lester Lyles, Retired United States Air Force General and member of the NASA Advisory Council
- Pam Melroy, 3-time Space Shuttle astronaut and former Deputy Director of the Tactical Technology Office at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency
- Dennis Muilenburg, CEO of the Boeing Company
- Fatih Ozmen, CEO of the Sierra Nevada Corporation
- G. P. "Bud" Peterson, President of the Georgia Institute of Technology
- Harrison "Jack" Schmitt, Apollo 17 astronaut and former Senator
- Gwynne Shotwell, President and COO of SpaceX
- Bob Smith, CEO of Blue Origin
- Eric Stallmer, President of the Commercial Spaceflight Federation
- David Thompson, founder and CEO of Orbital ATK
- Pamela Vaughan, Board Certified Science Teacher
- Mandy Vaughn, President, VOX Space
- Stuart O. Witt, Former CEO of Mojave Air and Space Port, former Navy pilot, Chairman Emeritus of the Commercial Spaceflight Federation
- David Wolf, 4-time Space Shuttle astronaut and physician
- Pete Worden, Former Air Force General and NASA Ames Research Center Director
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