Update for 5:02 p.m. EDT: Vice President Mike Pence's first meeting of the revived National Space Council has ended. You can watch a full replay above. Below, you can see brief recaps of Pence's opening comments for the meeting, as well as those of some industry panelists.
Read our full story: The Next Giant Leap: US Will Return to the Moon, Pence Says
Pence convened the meeting from the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum's Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Virginia. Acting NASA Administrator Robert Lightfoot also participated, along with Trump administration cabinet members and senior officials, and aerospace industry leaders. There were three panels of speakers covering ongoing civilian space exploration work by Boeing, Lockheed Martin and Orbital ATK; new commercial space projects by SpaceX, Blue Origin and Sierra Nevada Corp.; and presentations on space as a national security asset by former NASA Administrator Mike Griffin, former head of STRATCOM and retired Adm. James Ellis, and astronaut Pamela Melroy, DARPA's former deputy director of the Tactical Technology Office. Here are Pence's opening comments:
SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell spoke during the second panel on commercial spaceflight. She outlined SpaceX's ongoing work for reusable rockets and spacecraft, including the "Big Falcon Rocket" and "Big Falcon Spaceship," which the company plans to use to transport humans to Mars, to the moon and around the Earth. Watch Shotwell speak here:
Blue Origin CEO Bob Smith gave council members an update on his company's goals of flying passengers and payloads to space using its suborbital New Shepard rocket and spacecraft, as well as the New Glenn rocket. Smith said Blue Origin, which was founded by Amazon billionaire Jeff Bezos, will begin flying people to space within the next 18 months on New Shepard. The company is also planning to begin testing its new BE-4 rocket engine "soon." See Smith's comments here:
Rounding out the commercial spaceflight panel for the council was Fatih Ozmen, CEO of Sierra Nevada Corp., which is building the uncrewed Dream Chaser space plane to fly cargo to the International Space Station for NASA. Ozmen stressed the need to extend the life of the ISS as part of a long-term future in space. See his opening remarks here:
The third and final panel during today's National Space Council meeting was centered on national security. During the discussion, Griffin, who led the space agency from 2005 to 2009, told the council that the U.S. military space assets must be able to support "domain awareness" for military operations on land, in the air and at sea. Watch his opening comments:
Melroy, one of the only women to command NASA's space shuttles, told the council that timely situational awareness is a vital need for the U.S. military in space, adding that it's the difference between knowing what's going on at a certain time, and conducting a forensic study after the fact. See her opening comments:
The National Space Council was last active in the early 1990s, and this new incarnation, re-established June 30 by executive order, is also intended to give direction to U.S. space policy. In addition to Pence, the National Space Council's members include:
- Rex Tillerson, secretary of state;
- James Mattis; secretary of defense;
- Wilbur Ross, secretary of commerce;
- Elaine Chao, secretary of transportation;
- Elaine Duke, acting secretary of homeland security;
- Mick Mulvaney, director, Office of Management and Budget;
- H.R. McMaster, national security adviser;
- Daniel Coats, director of national intelligence;
- Robert Lightfoot, acting NASA administrator;
- Michael Kratsios, deputy chief technology officer of the United States;
Gen. Paul J. Selva, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
Space.com managing editor Tariq Malik and senior producer Steve Spaleta contributed to this report.
- Sarah Lewin, Space.com Associate Editor
Sarah started writing for Space.com in June of 2015. Her work has been featured by Scientific American, IEEE Spectrum, Quanta Magazine, Wired, The Scientist, Science Friday and WGBH's Inside NOVA. Sarah has an MA from NYU's Science, Health and Environmental Reporting Program and an AB in mathematics from Brown University. When not writing, reading or thinking about space, Sarah enjoys musical theatre and mathematical papercraft. You can follow her on Twitter @SarahExplains.
- Sarah Lewin, Space.com Associate Editor on