Trump Promises Revamped Civil & Military Space Policy, Downgraded Earth Science Program

Donald Trump (Credit: Michael Vadon)
Donald Trump (Credit: Michael Vadon)

Two senior policy advisers to Donald Trump, Robert S. Walker and Peter Navarro, published op-eds in SpaceNews prior to the election outlining the president elect’s planned civil and military space policies.

Civil Space Policy

The highlights on the civil side include:

“Public-private partnerships should be the foundation of our space efforts. Such partnerships offer not only the benefit of reduced costs, but the benefit of partners capable of thinking outside of bureaucratic structures and regulations.”

OK, that seems to have pretty broad acceptance and is along the lines of what’s already being done.

“Despite its importance in our economic and security calculations, space policy is uncoordinated within the federal government. A Trump administration would end the lack of proper coordination by reinstituting a national space policy council headed by the vice president.”

So, better coordination at the top.

“Today, [NASA] has been largely reduced to a logistics agency concentrating on space station resupply and politically correct environmental monitoring…..NASA should be focused primarily on deep space activities rather than Earth-centric work that is better handled by other agencies.”

Zeroing out NASA’s Earth Science programs have been a Republican goal for many years. Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.), for one, believes that global warming is a hoax perpetuated by Al Gore and other liberals to “create global government to control our lives.” So, he and his conferees want to eliminate anything that contributes to that fraud, i.e., provides data that shows global warming is real and a serious threat.

What would likely happen is that NASA’s Earth Science efforts would be gutted. Whatever was left would likely be transferred to NOAA and refocused on weather forecasting. This would particularly please Rep. Jim Bridenstine (R-Okla.), a global warming skeptic who would love to have more money to spend on predicting tornadoes. (A worthy enough goal, but not at the expense of NASA’s climate program.)

Military Space Policy

The approach on the military side includes:

Trump administration will simultaneously strengthen our economy and manufacturing base while significantly expanding our civilian and military space budgets. Trump understands, as Reagan did before him, that without a strong economy, there can be no strong space program. It is not too bold to assert the maintenance of our technological and strategic superiority in space is vital not just to national security but to our very survival….

Space superiority required due to existential threat to America.

While America’s space-based capabilities have made our military the world’s most powerful and effective, an over-reliance on our satellite network to provide situational awareness on the battlefield is now making America highly vulnerable to attack. Chinese and Russian strategists understand this better than our own government. That’s why they are now aggressively targeting our satellite networks – both military and civilian as the very concept of warfare broadens.

Existential threat, redux. Reduce vulnerabilities.

Against this emerging strategic chessboard, Donald Trump’s priorities for our military space program are clear: We must reduce our current vulnerabilities and assure that our military commands have the space tools they need for their missions. We must also reduce the cost of space access and create new generations of satellites to deal with emerging threats….

Increase robustness while reducing space access costs.

A Trump administration will also lead the way on emerging technologies that have the potential to revolutionize warfare. For example, both China and Russia are aggressively moving forward with a range of hypersonic weapons that are very difficult to defend against with traditional air-defense interceptors. A Trump administration will increase the coordination between DARPA, NASA, and the private sector to ensure the U.S. remains well ahead of the technology curve.

More weapons.

You can read the SpaceNews op-ed in full here and here.