President Trump has revived the National Space Council, a space policy advisory board that was disbanded in 1993. The council's responsibilities include developing a national space strategy that will incorporate the civilian, military, and commercial space sectors, advise the president, and participate in international space activities.
Although reviving the National Space Council is an important step in directing U.S. interests in space, many people still have questions about President Trump's agenda. President Trump has not picked someone to be the next NASA administrator, and he has not picked a science advisor. But Trump kept spaceflight programs in the national budget and supporting deep space exploration missions. President Trump is a known space aficionado and reviving the National Space Council was one of his campaign promises.
The ceremony when Trump signed the National Space Council back into existence was attended by four astronauts, including moonwalker Buzz Aldrin. Trump's comments during the ceremony indicated that he thinks of space as the next frontier, and wants America to be at the forefront of exploring its uncharted territory. He also emphasized the security and technological advantages of having a strong outer space presence.
"We are a nation of pioneers and the next great American frontier is space."With the signing of this executive order, many people are wondering what the future of American space exploration will be and what the balance will be between government-led and privately-run space exploration efforts. In particular, tech mogul Elon Musk is always at the forefront of people's minds when they think of space exploration. One of his goals is to start a Martian colony.
But Trump and Musk had a falling out over Trump's decision to withdraw from the Paris Agreement. Also called the Paris Climate Accord, it was a roadmap for dealing with climate change that President Trump opted out of. His decision was widely criticized by environmentalists, while others said that it amounted to a tax on first-world countries. Elon Musk, a staunch environmentalist, was among those upset about the president's decision. In response, Musk resigned from his position as an advisor to the president.
With the president signing the National Space Council into existence again, he seems to be promising a commitment to space exploration. But what that means and what goals the council will come up with are still a mystery--and without Elon Musk and the U.S. working together, we may not get to Mars.
[Featured Image by Evan Vucci/AP Images]