Pence at the first National Space Council meeting in October 2017. Photo: Joel Kowsky / NASA via Getty Images
Vice President Mike Pence, the chair of the newly reconvened National Space Council, outlined President Trump's space strategy at the council's second meeting Wednesday. Pence said that for companies looking to commercialize low Earth orbit, "the government will be a partner and customer, not a competitor."
Why it matters: SpaceX's successful launch of its Falcon Heavy rocket in early February put the spotlight on private companies who have stepped into the space race. Trump says he plans to send Americans back to the moon, and then onto Mars, and his administration hopes to accomplish these goals with the help of private industry.
"The evidence is clear, while the government can blaze new trails into exploring the outer expanse of space, like all frontiers, it'll ultimately be settled by the dreams of our people, by the brilliance of our innovators ... There's no reason our government should stand in the way of private companies that are trailblazing."— Vice President Pence
- Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, who was also at the council meeting, announced plans to make his department a "one-stop shop" for private space companies.
- He's moving the Office of Space Commerce and the Commercial Remote Sensing Regulatory Affairs Office from NOAA to his own office, so he'll have direct oversight, Ross said.
- The council also recommends "creating a sort of space czar — an undersecretary of space commerce to oversee" regulatory functions, the Washington Post reports.