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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.

Go deeper

Schumer: Trump impeachment trial to start week of Feb. 8

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer. Photo: The Washington Post via Getty

The Senate will begin former President Trump's impeachment trial the week of Feb. 8, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer announced Friday on the Senate floor.

Why it matters: Trump is the only president in U.S. history to be impeached twice. The House voted to impeach the former president on Jan. 13 on a single charge: incitement of insurrection for the Jan. 6 breach of the U.S. Capitol, which resulted in five deaths.

1 hour ago - Health

CDC extends interval between COVID vaccine doses for exceptional cases

Photo: Joseph Prezioso/AFP via Getty

Patients can space out the two doses of the coronavirus vaccine by up to six weeks if it’s "not feasible" to follow the shorter recommended window, according to updated guidance from the Centers for Disease and Control and Prevention.

Driving the news: With the prospect of vaccine shortages and a low likelihood that supply will expand before April, the latest changes could provide a path to vaccinate more Americans — a top priority for President Biden.

Texas AG sues Biden administration over deportation freeze

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton speaks to members of the media in 2016. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton is suing the Biden administration in federal district court over its 100-day freeze on deporting unauthorized immigrants, and he's asking for a temporary restraining order.

Between the lines: The freeze went into effect Friday, temporarily halting most immigration enforcement in the U.S. In the lawsuit, Paxton claims the move "violates the U.S. Constitution, federal immigration and administrative law, and a contractual agreement between Texas" and the Department of Homeland Security.