Thursday, October 05, 2017

1st National Space Council Meeting in 25 Years Hopes for Money, Promises the Moon & Bemoans Excess Regulations

          By Henry Stewart

US VP Mike Pence might want to see American astronauts return to the Moon, but SpaceX president and COO Gwynne Shotwell called instead for deregulation and more deregulation as space industry executives met with White House officials Thursday.

Screenshot from the CNBC news report on the event. As outlined in the report, "SpaceX is bringing back the dominance U.S. experienced in space in the 90s," an idea repeated by the executives of Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Orbital ATK, Blue Origin and Sierra Nevada Corporation. Photo c/o CNBC.

The occasion was the first National Space Council meeting held since the organization was disbanded in 1993.

As outlined in the October 5th, 2017 CNBC post, "SpaceX president slams space regulations: 'It requires heroics' to make minor changes,'" SpaceX wants that licensing process for rocket launches streamlined so it can launch more frequently. The company it has successfully completed thirteen of thirteen launches this year using a combination of new and reused rocket engines, which Shotwell said "is more than any nation."

According to Shotwell, "If we want to achieve rapid progress in space, the US government must remove bureaucratic practices that run counter to innovation and speed."

Shotwell with the SpaceX Dragon. Photo c/o Success Story.
Others in attendance included Lockheed Martin CEO Marilyn Hewson, Sierra Nevada CEO Fatih Ozmen and Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg.

But while, as outlined in the October 5th, 2017 BBC post, "Mike Pence wants to see astronauts return to the Moon" the Trump administration was hoping to inspire business with the exploration of the final frontier, perhaps the real attendance driver for the meeting was the potential for future Federal funding.

According to Pence, ""We will return astronauts to the Moon - not only to leave behind footprints and flags, but to build the foundation we need to send Americans to Mars and Beyond."

And that costs money.

Of course, there's no real doubt that Pence sincerely believes what he said at the meeting. And there's no real doubt that our Canadian Space Agency (CSA) also believes sincerely in what VP Pence is saying.

This belief most assuredly accounts for the CSA's embrace of the proposed US Moon station (as outlined in the September 29th, 2017 Canadian Press post, "Canadian Space Agency developing robotic arms for moon station") and the recent scramble to set up public meetings with US based space companies, such as Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC), as outlined in the October 3rd, 2017 CSA press release, "Canadian space firms to get access to work on American space vehicles."

In essence, and although without real power or a real mission, the CSA is going to great lengths to create the perception of proximity to power and a mission which can be shared.

Maybe next time, the CSA will even be able to get into the important meetings. As outlined in the October 5th, 2017 SpaceQ post, "Canadian Space Agency President Speaks to a Primarily Student Audience at the Montreal Space Symposium," CSA president Sylvain Laporte spent Thursday in Montreal at a student organized space conference.

According to Wikipedia, the National Space Council is an executive body created in 1989 during the George Bush administration, disbanded in 1993 but re-established in June 2017 by current president Donald Trump. It is a modified version of the earlier National Aeronautics and Space Council which existed from 1958-1973.

Henry Stewart is the pseudonym of a Toronto based aerospace writer.

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