On Dec. 9, the National Space Council held its eighth and final meeting under the current administration, as President-elect Joe Biden prepares to assume office in January.
Biden and his advisers have yet to speak of Biden’s plans for the council or the U.S. Space Force.
Last year, following congressional authorization, the U.S. Space Force was established as the sixth military service, and in June, 2017, after a 20-year hiatus, the White House re-established the National Space Council, established in 1989 by former Pres. George H.W. Bush and disbanded in 1993. Chaired by the vice president and composed of cabinet members who receive counsel from a users advisory group, the council has met eight times since its re-establishment to formulate space policy.
At the meeting in Cape Canaveral, Fla., on Dec. 9, Vice President Mike Pence went through a greatest hits rendition of Trump space efforts, including the creation of the Space Force, discussions of which date back at least to the establishment of the U.S. Air Force Space Command in 1982.
Pence’s remarks were punctuated by inaccuracies and half-truths, including his reference to “the new millenium,” which is 20 years old, and a reference to the American economy reaching “all new heights”–despite the recent, sharp economic slowdown driven by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The National Space Council meeting on Dec. 9 also saw the release of a new, National Space Policy–one that may become moot with the Biden administration next month.
“The international environment we’re in is very dynamic,” Scott Pace, the executive secretary of the National Space Council, said on Dec. 9. “It’s influenced by competition and threats to the space capabilities on which we rely. Consequently, it’s important that the U.S. space activities across all sectors–civil, commercial, and national security–be coordinated at the highest levels in an integrated manner to advance our national interests and those of our allies and partners.”
“Space does not exist for its own sake,” he said. “It exists to serve the interests of the nation, and our alignment with those interests is crucial to our success. Establishing U.S. capabilities to operate routinely out to the moon and beyond will deliver strategic assets, not only for ourselves but for all like-minded nations who share our values–liberty, democracy, rule of law, free market economic principles. It is our values we carry with us into space, not merely our machines.”