Feb 21, 2018

The Trump administration's vision for space: A commercial paradise

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.

Go deeper: The private companies in the space race and highlights from the first council meeting.

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Assault weapons ban dies in Virginia Senate despite Democratic control

Gun-rights ralliers at a protest outside the Virginia Capitol Building in January. Photo ROBERTO SCHMIDT/AFP via Getty Images.

An assault weapons ban died in the Virginia Senate Judiciary Committee on Monday despite a Democratic majority in the assembly, the Washington Post reports.

Why it matters: Democrats flipped the Virginia House and Senate last year after campaigning hard on gun control. The assault weapons bill would have banned future transfers and sales of all assault weapons in the state.

What we know: Deadly Storm Dennis whips at England, Wales and Ireland

Photo: OLI SCARFF/AFP via Getty Images.

At least two deaths are being attributed to Storm Dennis on Monday as it continues to strike at parts of England, Wales and Ireland, per AccuWeather.

The big picture: Dennis is the second-strongest nontropical storm ever recorded in the North Atlantic Ocean. Its hurricane-force winds and heavy rains have caused widespread flooding across the United Kingdom. The army has been deployed in the U.K. to help with flood relief.

Go deeperArrow29 mins ago - Science

Coronavirus cases rise as 14 American evacuees infected

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins, the CDC, and China's NHC; Note: China refers to mainland China and the Diamond Princess is the cruise ship offshore Yokohama, Japan. Map: Danielle Alberti/Axios

14 Americans evacuated from the Diamond Princess cruise ship tested positive for the novel coronavirus before being flown in a "specialist containment" on a plane repatriating U.S. citizens back home, the U.S. government said early Monday.

The big picture: COVID-19 has now killed at least 1,775 people and infected more than 70,000 others. Most cases and all but five of the deaths have occurred in mainland China.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 3 hours ago - Health