Tag Archives: Mike Pence

The first meeting of the National Space Council

The first meeting of the National Space Council just wrapped up. You can see highlights here. I have several thoughts.

The entire event was very carefully staged, with the planned outcomes determined beforehand. The three panels of speakers were organized to match up with the three main actions the council intended to pursue, with the questions from the various high level Trump cabinet members clearly arranged to line up with each panel. Moreover, the fact that all these panel members were there and participating in this staged event suggests that Trump himself is directly interested, and insisted they do so.

The first action was a decision to rework the country’s overall space policy, including its future goals for exploring the solar system. This action item was linked with statements by officials from Lockheed Martin, Boeing, and Orbital ATK, and was clearly intended to placate their desire to keep what they all called “sustained” and “reliable” funding. It was also clearly linked to Pence’s opening remarks, which insisted that the U.S. should return to the Moon, permanently, and use that as a jumping off point for exploring Mars and the rest of the solar system.

The second action was a commitment to review, in the next 45 days, the entire regulatory bureaucracy that private companies must face. This was linked to the testimony from officials from SpaceX, Blue Origin, and Sierra Nevada.

The third action was a focus on the military and national security aspects of space, focused on the development of a “space strategic framework” that will apparently link the military needs with the growing commercial space industry. This framework has been under development for several months. The council actually spent the most time questioning the national security witnesses on this issue. This focus also aligns with the main interest in space held by Trump’s nominee for NASA administrator, Congressman Jim Bridenstine (R-Oklahoma). Interestingly, Bridenstine was in the audience, but was given no speaking opportunity, unlike the NASA acting administrator, Robert Lightfoot, who Pence specifically provided a moment to speak.

Overall, this meeting indicates that the Trump administration is likely not going to do much to drain the swamp that presently dominates our space effort. Trump’s interest in reducing regulation remains strong, but it also appears he and his administration is also strongly committed to continuing the crony capitalism that is wasting literally billions of dollars in space and helping to put the nation into unrecoverable debt.

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A new Zimmerman op-ed at The Federalist

The Federalist has published another op-ed by me today: How Trump Can Drain The Space Swamp That Wants To Engulf Him. The key paragraphs:

Right now it appears, based on these news stories, that the Trump administration is gearing up to do the same, with Trump’s grand achievement being a lunar space station, to be built by the mid-2020s, with a possible specific goal of 2026, the 250th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence.

Whether this lunar space station concept makes sense is a subject for a different column. The point here is that it appears that the international community and the big space contractors are all converging on this concept, and are making a big push to convince the Trump administration to endorse it.

Based on this pressure, I fully expect Trump to make this endorsement. However, the key to understanding whether Trump is the revolutionary figure he and many of his supporters claim him to be will be how he frames such a declaration.

If he ties it to continuing funding for SLS, he will prove that he is part of the problem, not the solution. SLS is simply too expensive and unwieldy. No nation can seriously mount the manned exploration and settlement of the solar system upon it.

For Trump to adopt it as the core of his lunar space station proposal would mean that his goal has nothing to do with making America great again. Instead, the goal will be the continuing distribution of pork to Congressional districts and to our international partners, as we have seen now for the past twelve years since SLS/Orion was first proposed in 2004. Nothing has flown, but each year Congress has made sure that about $4 billion was distributed to these players.

Trump does have other options, however, even if they include building a space station orbiting the Moon….

Read it all. The first meeting of the National Space Council is about to begin. From the speaker list, it appears that the Trump administration just might be entertaining those other options.

Note: Rand Simberg makes some similar points in his own op-ed yesterday.

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Viewing options for first National Space Council meeting

Keith Cowing of NASAWatch has located details about the time and video viewing opportunities for Thursday’s first public meeting of the National Space Council.

The event will be streamed online on NASA TV and via Whiteouse.gov starting around 10:00 am. The event itself is only 2 to 2.5 hours long (not mentioned on the advisory).

…There is nothing online anywhere to suggest that the public can attend this event so it looks like it is going to be an expensive photo op with only a select few actually in attendance listening to pre-written statements being read before the cameras. The expense of taking over a large portion of a busy museum seems to be for the purpose of providing impressive backdrops for a meeting that is mostly show and little substance.

The advisory still provides no details about speakers.

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First meeting of National Space Council announced

A Potemkin Village: The White House has announced the date of the first public meeting of the National Space Council, set for October 5 at the Air & Space Museum.

Today, Vice President Mike Pence announced the first meeting of the National Space Council is scheduled for October 5, 2017 at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, Virginia. The meeting, titled “Leading the Next Frontier: An Event with the National Space Council,” will include testimonials from expert witnesses who represent the sectors of the space industry: Civil Space, Commercial Space, and National Security Space.

What this announcement tells me is that this council isn’t there to discuss and set space policy, but to sell that policy to the public. And right now, I am expecting that sales job will be trying to convince us that we must use SLS/Orion mission to build a new space station orbiting the Moon by 2023. They will use the council to pitch the idea, and then Trump will make the traditional Kennedy-like speech, with lots of astronauts standing behind him, committing this nation to putting a space station around the Moon by such-and-such a date. Whoopie!

Forgive me if I sound a bit cynical. I’ve seen this show many times before. For some reason, the opening act is great, but then it fades always away into nothingness before the second act begins.

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Trump picks Pence

It appears that Donald Trump has chosen Indiana governor Mike Pence as his vice presidential running mate.

This article provides a detailed look at Pence’s background, which is decidedly conservative and tightly linked with tea party philosophy.

Trump’s choice here is definitely encouraging. It suggests that his claimed conversion to conservative values might actually be sincere (though clearly shallow), because it suggests he is looking for conservatives to help him figure out how to be a conservative. As I’ve said repeatedly, the best way to make sure Trump governs as a constitutional conservative is to surround him with constitutional conservatives. This choice indicates that he is not going to resist that possibility.

Let me add that picking Pence could help Trump significantly in garnering support from the status quo Republicans that have been resisting him, since these same people respect Pence highly.

Let me also add one cautionary note. I have a memory of Pence at one point waffling on conservative principles for political gain, but I cannot at all remember the context or situation. Thus, it is important to remind ourselves repeatedly that these are all politicians, and that their interest is not necessarily that of the nation’s but of their own self-interest, which means getting elected. At any time they could toss the Constitution in the trash heap if that is what they think will get them votes. UPDATE: This article outlines Pence’s waffling as governor in Indiana, confirming my reservations about him.

It is therefore very important to not only surround Trump with conservatives, all politicians must be surrounded by voters who demand they defend our rights and our freedoms, as defined by the Constitution. Only then can we be reasonably assured that those rights will be defended.

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