Pence Names Candidates for National Space Council’s Users Advisory Group

Mike Pence

WASHINGTON (White House PR) — Vice President Mike Pence, Chairman of the National Space Council, today announced the candidates selected to serve on the National Space Council’s Users Advisory Group.

Pending official appointment by the Administrator of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, the selected members of the Users Advisory Group will serve to fulfill President Trump’s mandate to “foster close coordination, cooperation, and technology and information exchange” across our nation’s space enterprise.

The announcement as made on the eve of the second meeting of the National Space Council. “Moon, Mars, and World Beyond: Winning the next Frontier” includes testimonials from leaders in the civil, commercial, and national security sectors about the importance of the United States’ space enterprise.

Selection to the National Space Council’s Users Advisory Group:

  • Buzz Aldrin, Apollo 11 astronaut
  • Tory Bruno, President and CEO of United Launch Alliance
  • Wes Bush, CEO of Northrop Grumman
  • Dean Cheng, Scholar at the Heritage Foundation
  • Eileen Collins, 4-time Shuttle astronaut, first female shuttle commander
  • Steve Crisafulli, Former Speaker of the Florida House of Representatives
  • Mary Lynne Dittmar, President and CEO of The Coalition for Deep Space Exploration
  • Adm. Jim Ellis, Retired 4-star Admiral, former head of STRATCOM, and member of the Space Foundation Board of Directors
  • Tim Ellis, CEO of Relativity Space
  • Newt Gingrich, Author, former Speaker of the House
  • Marillyn Hewson, CEO of Lockheed Martin Corporation
  • Homer Hickam, Author of the book “Rocket Boys” and former NASA Marshall Spaceflight Center engineer
  • Governor Kay Ivey, Governor of Alabama
  • Fred Klipsch, Founder and Chairman of Hoosiers for Quality Education
  • Les Lyles, Retired 4-star Air Force General and member of the NASA Advisory Council
  • Pam Melroy, 3-time Shuttle astronaut and former Deputy Director of the Tactical Technology Office at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency
  • Dennis Muilenberg, CEO of the Boeing Company
  • Faith Ozmen, CEO of the Sierra Nevada Corporation
  • G.P. Bud Peterson, President of the Georgia Institute of Technology
  • Jack Schmitt, Apollo 17 Astronaut and former Senator
  • Gwynne Shotwell, President and COO of SpaceX
  • Bob Smith, CEO of Blue Origin
  • Eric Stallmer, President of the Commercial Spaceflight Federation
  • David Thompson, Founder and CEO of Orbital ATK
  • Pamela Vaughan,, Board Certified Science Teacher
  • Mandy Vaughn, President of VOX Launch Company
  • Stu Witt, Founder of Mojave Air and Spaceport, former Navy pilot, former Chairman of the Commercial Spaceflight Federation
  • David Wolf, 4-time Shuttle astronaut and physician
  • Pete Worden, Former Air Force General and NASA Ames Center Director.

  • patb2009

    launcher heavy…

    It may be better to have people from payloads/Missions/User community

  • therealdmt

    The governor of Alabama, eh?

    We’ll be getting back to the Moon reeeaal soon (not)

  • Jeff2Space

    There are way too many people on this council. I’d hate to be in those meetings. Anymore than about 6 people in a meeting and it just becomes uncontrollable.

  • mattmcc80

    Phew, I’d hate to have a space council without Newt Gingrich…

  • ThomasLMatula

    No matter what the very special interests of the Marshall Spaceflght Center and Huntsville MUST be protected. Indeed, it’s protection has been the one common thread in American space policy since they transferred the German A4 scientists there in the early 1950’s. No matter what happens the pork must keep flowing!

  • duheagle

    No surprise about the CEO troika of the Military-Industrial Complex having seats. No surprise about several of their minions being there either. NewSpace is much less well represented and there is no one from a NewSpace company that has actually launched anything. It’s easy, though, to understand why Relativity and VOX would sign on – it raises their public profiles and, in some circles anyway, their credibility as would-be players.

    The lack of actual NewSpace players is disappointing, but the reasons for this circumstance are unclear. Were no such people asked to join? That would not augur well for the future of U.S. space policy, assuming this body actually turns out to have any significant influence on same. Or were invitations extended to already consequential NewSpacers and none of them, for whatever reasons, elected to accept?

    If the latter is the case, it would be interesting to know what the motivations were behind said non-participation. Perhaps most of NewSpace judges the National Space Council to be an inconsequential show dog of no actual importance. In that case, given that the amount of time it might require of senior people in firms that are much smaller than the legacy aerospace primes perhaps inclined NewSpacers to view potential NSC duty as comparable to a sort of jury duty that could be ducked without legal consequence. Or perhaps the establishment-heavy remainder of the membership roster suggested that NewSpacers would have no actual influence and their pro forma presence would simply be window dressing. In this case the feeling might have been that by staying away, the NSC could simply be dismissed as one more institution tailored by OldSpace to defend its antediluvian perquisites the next time NewSpace pushes and OldSpace pushes back.

    Mysteries that are likely to remain so for some time as no one involved would seem in line for any benefits by clarifying matters.

  • Lee

    Umm, you missed Shotwell from SpaceX and Smith of Blue Origin. Both have most assuredly launched things, in SpaceX’s case, *lots* of things…

  • ThomasLMatula

    You don’t consider Stu Witt a New Spacer? He basically gives a voice to all the firms working out of Mojave Air and Space Port. And unlike them, has time to travel and give it his full attention.

  • Aerospike

    That is not the council itself!
    If I read that correctly that “Users Advisory Group” is basically just a bunch of people which you should consult with when doing anything significant in space. AND it is just candidates for that group.

  • Aegis Maelstrom

    As it has been pointed out: Shotwell, Smith, Witt, I would also add Faith Ozmen of Sierra Nevada. What is really lacking is the spacecraft crowd, not to mention actual USERS (it’s called a “user group”, right?).

    There is noone from Hughes, Loral Space & Communications or some newspace spacecraft wannabes. There are no networks like Iridium, Orbcomm, not to mention big providers like SES, Dish or new entrants. Finally no scientific consortia, space industry customers or user groups.

    Once again someone forgot that space has some actual users and should have more of them. Shame.

  • Bulldog

    And while we’re at it, some of the “up and comers” would be nice to see in the mix such as Rocket Lab, Stratolaunch, Virgin Galactic, et al.

  • ThomasLMatula

    True, but remember that the key driver of the comsat industry is the market. If a government has policies that are unfavorable they will just go elsewhere, like Luxembourg, that is pleased to have them. In that sense it is a mature industry and doesn’t really need the help of the National Space Council to move forward.

  • duheagle

    I missed them because, at the time I initially read this post, their names weren’t there. Neither were those of Ozmen, Peterson and Schmitt as best I can recall. That block of five names seems to have been an update to the text.

  • duheagle

    I consider Stu Witt very much a NewSpacer. Compared to the people from Relativity and VOX, he is also someone with some serious “street cred” in space-related circles. Given the “Murderer’s Row” of OldSpace CEO’s on the list, his presence is very welcome. But he’s not the CEO of any entity that has launched things, so that part of my initial comment about the initially posted list still applies.

  • duheagle

    The actual members of the Council are all government officials. The User’s Advisory Group is where the “regular civilians” get to have input – a sort of “kitchen cabinet” for the purely governmental body which is the formal National Space Council. Don’t discount the potential influence of even such a semi-formal body.

    As for the “candidates” thing, it may be true that formal inclusion of these people has not yet occurred, but no press release would have gone out unless everyone named on the list had already agreed to join up.

  • duheagle

    As noted above in a previous reply to another commenter, Shotwell, Smith and Ozmen’s names weren’t on the initial list I read.

    Your general point is very well taken, though. Sierra Nevada is certainly a user by your criteria, but it is odd that there aren’t more. Hughes has long been part of Boeing so I guess one can say they are represented. Loral is also a subsidiary these days, but their parent company is, as you say, not on the list. SES is not an American company so that likely explains its absence, but you are correct that it does not explain the absence of the others you mentioned. Other prominent absentees I would add to your list include Planet and Spire.

    It seems my wondering, “Were they not asked or did they pass?” turns out to still have some relevance, but anent users rather than launchers.

  • duheagle

    An industry sector that doesn’t need help also doesn’t need gratuitous obstacles placed in its way. The interests of users and launch providers are not 100% congruent. I agree with Aegis Maelstrom that more actual users not being on this roster is puzzling – maybe even concerning.

  • duheagle

    Yes. “Diversity” and all that.

  • Aegis Maelstrom

    Actually, one may argue that launchers are much more of vendors than users. The largest “use” I see here is using public money and other resources like infrastructure.

    I still find it strange that e.g. consumer organizations representing users of telco SATs, US universities or electronic industry are not being consulted.

  • ThomasLMatula

    Rocket Lab launches from another country while Stratolaunch and Virgin Galactic are basically dead-ends with their surviving hardware likely to end up as museum pieces. At least Paul Allen has his own museum to put the Stratolauncher in 🙂

  • therealdmt

    I’d definitely like to see some science representatives in there

  • windbourne

    Mostly old space.

  • duheagle

    Are there any consumer organizations representing users of telco sats? As for universities and the electronics industry, space-related matters are a tiny corner of both. There’s a practical limit to how big one can make a group like this before it becomes too unwieldy to be useful. Restricting membership to representatives of strictly space-centric entities is just good sense. There are more of just those than can be accommodated by a group of useful size.

  • duheagle

    OldSpace is bigger than NewSpace – at least for now. So it’s not altogether unreasonable that OldSpace has more seats at this particular table. But it’s hardly an OldSpace Old Boys Club. Even if, for now, outnumbered, NewSpace-ers tend to punch above their weight. Once the National Space Council actually starts doing things it’ll be easier to evaluate the overall effect of this User’s Advisory Group.

  • Paul451

    Schmitt, like the late Armstrong, has become an OldSpace shill of late.

    (And I’d say that He3-mining is a very old, space trope.)

    As for the rest…

    Worden was NASA-Ames, of course, but is now apparently in with the Luxembourg effort to become the Panama of space. Don’t know what that means in practice.

    Collins is a loyal Trumpet, or at least played the role while apparently lobbying for NASA Administrator before Trump picked Bridenstine.

    Melroy was with LM before DARPA, not sure if the relationship continues.

    Adm. Ellis is a shill for LM.

    Gen. Lyles is on the revolving door between contractors (General Dynamics, Halliburton, etc), USAF purchasing/logistics, and every committee/review/advisory board that will have him.

    Aldrin and Gingrich have a history of independent advocacy of their own
    schemes. Gingrich is moon focused, Aldrin isn’t. Aldrin seems to be a
    SpaceX fanboi while Gingrich was inside the Trump campaign & transition. [Random Aside: Gingrich’s Window of Opportunity is one of the few books written by a politician I’ve ever read. But I was 15 and it had a picture of a goddamn space eagle clutching a goddamn space shuttle on the cover.]

    Stallmer and Witt shill for NewSpace. Dittmar for the Primes, mainly Boeing/LM.

    Most of the rest are more obvious, they do what it says on the tin. Not sure why Virgin (VOX) needs to be there.

    Also not sure about the novelties like Homer Hickam. Pamela Vaughan feels like a token. Bud Peterson worked at NASA-JSC, but beyond that, no idea of his loyalties/preferences. Klipsch is part of the voucher/charter-school faction, no idea what his connection to space is.

  • Search

    Yep. See also the former ARC Center Director, and the many former astronauts (which apparently immediately qualifies you for such boards even though they have seldom accomplished anything else in terms of business.)

    Some oddities:
    1) Pamela Vaughan, Board Certified Science Teacher
    2) Stu Witt, Founder of Mojave Air and Spaceport,
    3) Steve Crisafulli, Former Speaker of the Florida House of Representatives

  • Search

    The Mojave “Space Port” is just a giant grift scheme that the NM taxpayers seem unable to unwilling to kill. Hardly a kudo – in fact that is a shining example of Crook Space which is giving legitimate newspace efforts a bad name.

  • Search

    see above. Next you’ll be wondering why they didnt include Naveed Jain

  • Search

    the “VOX” person is ex-Virgin Galactic

  • duheagle

    Former astronauts are all over the map in terms of their attitudes about nearly anything space-related.

    If you regard Stu Witt as an “oddity,” that’s going to convince a lot of people here – myself included – that you don’t know enough to make useful comments on this matter.

    If you don’t know who someone is and what they’ve done, look them up. This is 2018. There are these things called search engines. Try one.

  • duheagle

    Homer was a long-time NASA engineer at MSFC but is best known for writing Rocket Boys, which was the basis for the movie October Sky. He’s got plenty of space credentials. Despite his background he seems to have a lot of good things to say about SpaceX and has even visited the Hawthorne factory/HQ.

    Klipsch is fairly easy to to explain – he’s a friend and political ally of Pence. The school choice stuff is an avocation, not a vocation. He was a business executive. He was a second-cousin of Paul W. Klipsch, an audio pioneer who pretty much invented the modern speaker industry – in Hope, Arkansas of all places. Fred Klipsch took over running Klipsch Audio after the founder retired, moving its business HQ to Indianapolis, and ran it for over two decades. He seems to have no connection to space unless perhaps some of NASA’s test facilities use Klipsch speakers or anechoic products.

    Pamela Vaughn is most likely this woman. She’s from Huntsville, AL so is probably less someone’s token than someone’s cat’s-paw.

  • duheagle

    The Mojave Spaceport is in CA not NM. You’re confusing it with Spaceport America near Las Cruces, NM. Search engines, people! Search engines! Your magic keys to avoiding looking like clueless morons in print!

    Kinda ironic I should need to give you this advice in light of your chosen handle.

  • duheagle

    I’ll see you and raise you.

  • duheagle

    Yes. Virgin Galactic spun off their LauncherOne business as a separate entity, Virgin Orbit. VOX, in turn, is a subsidiary of Virgin Orbit oriented strictly toward military and national security launches. All these entities are still subsidiaries of Richard Branson’s Virgin Group.