A Closer Look at National Space Council User’s Advisory Group Nominees


So, I finally had a chance to go through folks that Vice President Mike Pence nominated to serve on the National Space Council’s Users Advisory Group.

Below is my attempt to break down the 29 nominees by category. It’s far from perfect because several of them could easily be listed under multiple categories. But, here’s my best shot at it.

National Space Council’s Users Advisory Group Nominees

Corporate Executives

  • Tory Bruno, President and CEO of United Launch Alliance
  • Wes Bush, CEO of Northrop Grumman
  • Marillyn Hewson, CEO of Lockheed Martin Corporation
  • David Thompson, Founder and CEO of Orbital ATK
  • Dennis Muilenberg, CEO of the Boeing Company
  • Faith Ozmen, CEO of the Sierra Nevada Corporation
  • Gwynne Shotwell, President and COO of SpaceX
  • Bob Smith, CEO of Blue Origin
  • Mandy Vaughn, President of VOX Launch Company
  • Tim Ellis, CEO of Relativity Space

Industry Associations

  • Mary Lynne Dittmar, President and CEO of The Coalition for Deep Space Exploration
  • Eric Stallmer, President of the Commercial Spaceflight Federation

Industry Professionals

  • Stu Witt, Founder of Mojave Air and Spaceport, former Navy pilot, former Chairman of the Commercial Spaceflight Federation

Former NASA Astronauts & Employees

  • Jack Schmitt, Apollo 17 Astronaut and former Senator
  • Eileen Collins, 4-time Shuttle astronaut, first female shuttle commander
  • David Wolf, 4-time Shuttle astronaut and physician
  • Buzz Aldrin, Apollo 11 astronaut
  • Pam Melroy, 3-time Shuttle astronaut and former Deputy Director of the Tactical Technology Office at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency
  • Pete Worden, Former Air Force General and NASA Ames Center Director
  • Homer Hickam, Author of the book “Rocket Boys” and former NASA Marshall Spaceflight Center engineer

Military

  • Adm. Jim Ellis, Retired 4-star Admiral, former head of STRATCOM, and member of the Space Foundation Board of Directors
  • Les Lyles, Retired 4-star Air Force General and member of the NASA Advisory Council

Politicians

  • Governor Kay Ivey, Governor of Alabama
  • Newt Gingrich, Author, former Speaker of the House
  • Steve Crisafulli, Former Speaker of the Florida House of Representatives

Think Tanks & Political Action Committees

  • Dean Cheng, Scholar at the Heritage Foundation
  • Fred Klipsch, Founder and Chairman of Hoosiers for Quality Education

Academia

  • G.P. Bud Peterson, President of the Georgia Institute of Technology
  • Pamela Vaughan, Board Certified Science Teacher

So, we’ve got a heavy representation from industry, NASA and the military. Reflecting the Trump Administration’s disdain for science, the list is notable for its lack of anyone representing a scientific organization.

Ten corporate executives have been nominated. There is a good representation of established companies such as Boeing, ULA and Lockheed Martin. Then you also have NewSpace companies that include SpaceX, VOX Launch and Relativity Space.

There are also two industry associations — CSF and the Coalition for Deep Space Exploration — that represent the interests for their members. Interestingly, there is no representative from the Aerospace Industries Association, which represents both the space and defense sectors.

Stu Witt, a former U.S. Navy pilot who ran the Mojave Air and Space Port, is one of the nominees. He runs a space consulting firm and formerly served as CSF chairman.

There are five former astronauts on the list, including Apollo astronauts Buzz Aldrin and Jack Schmitt and space shuttle veterans Eileen Collins, David Wolf and Pam Melroy. Former NASA Ames Research Center Director Pete Worden and NASA Marshall engineer Homer Hickam were also nominated.

The military is represented by retired Admiral Jim Ellis, who formerly headed STRATCOM, and retired Gen. Les Lyles, who is a member of the NASA Advisory Council.

The states of Alabama and Florida — which have major government space centers — are represented on the list. There are no politicians from Texas, California or other states with NASA or U.S. Air Force space centers.

The other politician on the list is former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, a space enthusiast who proposed granting statehood to a future lunar colony during his campaign for president.

Dean Cheng, a scholar at the right-wing Heritage Foundation, is among the nominees. So is Fred Klipsch, an ally of Pence who is founder and chairman of Hoosiers for Quality Education.

G.P. Bud Peterson, president of the Georgia Institute of Technology, and Pamela Vaughan, a board certified science teacher, were nominated to represent academia.

  • duheagle

    Given that the coming decades should see vastly expanded military and commercial presences in space, the mix seems at least approximately correct to me; if anything, a bit light on the military side.

    The commercial representatives, both the corporate chiefs and the association chairs, are split right down the middle as to OldSpace vs. NewSpace. Stu Witt actually gives NewSpace a 7 to 6 representation if one combines your first three categories. I would do that and just call it Industry. That’s quite a bit better a NewSpace showing than I feared it might be. NewSpace actually punches well above its relative weight here.

    Two of those you have categorized as ex-NASA are also pretty high-profile ex-military. Additionally, Dean Cheng from Heritage is a specialist in PRC space and military affairs.

    Harrison Schmitt is really a three-fer in your categorization being an ex-astronaut, an ex-politician and a long-time academic. I decided to put him in a new category – Science – given that he has spent more time-in-grade as a geologist than he has wearing any of the many other hats in his closet. He is, to be sure, far from a Politically Correct scientist, but you will find far fewer of those in any position of significance in a Trump administration than formerly so no surprise.

    Pamela Vaughan is a high-school teacher from Huntsville so putting her into the Academia category seems a bit of a stretch.

    Klipsch is a Friend of Mike Pence as there is no other even mildly compelling reason he should be a member of this body. In a Democratic administration, people like Klipsch would be running places like the Office of Personnel Management or be serving as U.S. Ambasadors to Small European Countries. Klipsch at least has a long business executive background so he might have avoided making the hash of OPM that Obama’s politically reliable, but world-class incompetent, bozo appointee did. On the body to which he has been appointed, he seems unlikely to do any damage and might even do some good.

    Here are my revised categorizations:

    Industry

    &#8729 Tory Bruno, President and CEO of United Launch Alliance
    &#8729 Wes Bush, CEO of Northrop Grumman
    &#8729 Marillyn Hewson, CEO of Lockheed Martin Corporation
    &#8729 David Thompson, Founder and CEO of Orbital ATK
    &#8729 Dennis Muilenberg, CEO of the Boeing Company
    &#8729 Faith Ozmen, CEO of the Sierra Nevada Corporation
    &#8729 Gwynne Shotwell, President and COO of SpaceX
    &#8729 Bob Smith, CEO of Blue Origin
    &#8729 Mandy Vaughn, President of VOX Launch Company
    &#8729 Tim Ellis, CEO of Relativity Space
    &#8729 Mary Lynne Dittmar, President and CEO of The Coalition for Deep Space Exploration
    &#8729 Eric Stallmer, President of the Commercial Spaceflight Federation
    &#8729 Stu Witt, Founder of Mojave Air and Spaceport, former Navy pilot, former Chairman of the Commercial Spaceflight Federation

    Former NASA Astronauts & Employees

    &#8729 Eileen Collins, 4-time Shuttle astronaut, first female shuttle commander
    &#8729 David Wolf, 4-time Shuttle astronaut and physician
    &#8729 Buzz Aldrin, Gemini 12 and Apollo 11 astronaut
    &#8729 Homer Hickam, Author of the book “Rocket Boys” and former NASA Marshall Spaceflight Center engineer

    Military

    &#8729 Jim Ellis, retired 4-star Admiral, former head of STRATCOM, and member of the Space Foundation Board of Directors
    &#8729 Les Lyles, Retired 4-star Air Force General and member of the NASA Advisory Council
    &#8729 Pam Melroy, 3-time Shuttle astronaut and former Deputy Director of the
    Tactical Technology Office at the Defense Advanced Research Projects
    Agency
    &#8729 Pete Worden, Former Air Force General and NASA Ames Center Director
    &#8729 Dean Cheng, Scholar at the Heritage Foundation

    Politicians

    &#8729 Kay Ivey, Governor of Alabama
    &#8729 Newt Gingrich, Author, former Speaker of the House
    &#8729 Steve Crisafulli, Former Speaker of the Florida House of Representatives

    Academia

    &#8729 G.P. Bud Peterson, President of the Georgia Institute of Technology

    Science

    &#8729 Jack Schmitt, Apollo 17 Astronaut and former Senator

    People with Friends in High Places

    &#8729 Fred Klipsch, Founder and Chairman of Hoosiers for Quality Education
    &#8729 Pamela Vaughan, Board Certified Science Teacher

  • CharlesHouston

    That’s a list with notes, and a good start on a Closer Look.

    Of course it is easy to second guess any list of people. Still – even with the inclusion of SpaceX this looks a lot like a group that would recommend Business As Usual.

    The big question is – when are they gonna get started? With the mid-term elections looming we are half way through Donald’s term, and the campaign for a second term looks as challenging as the first one did. There are precious few months to try to decide what to do and then to try to get any of it into legislation.

  • Not to be snarky, but I think you answered your own (rhetorical) question: business as usual. Legacy and new space companies alike want business as usual (the alternatives have more risk than reward). NASA and its supporters want business as usual: SLS and DSG/LOPG – those plans have been in the works for a decade.

    This isn’t to say there’s anything is wrong with that, in fact space is doing rather well right now. If the individual companies/groups can stick to a plan for 5ish years or so, they’ll have lots to show for it. If that’s the case, codifying business as usual might be the best we can ask for right now. It sure beats the churn of scrapping the current plans and starting all over again… for the umpteenth time.

  • duheagle

    Granted, anything governmental tends to move slowly, but the mid-term elections are not “looming,” they’re 8 months away. Donald’s term isn’t half over for another 10 months. That means it’s only a little more than 1/4 over now. Fun’s fun, but let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves.

  • duheagle

    The legacy companies certainly want business as usual – it’s all they’re set up for. The new companies understand full well that business as usual is what would keep them perpetually on the outside looking in. So it’s emphatically not what they want. Numerically, at least, NewSpace swings some real weight here. And the gathering momentum is all on their side.

    The current plans make no programmatic or economic sense. Scrapping them is exactly what’s required. But doing that would be a dogfight of epic proportions. So let’s open the ball and start swinging.

  • Paul451

    I disagree that NewSpace is well represented:

    OldSpace

    ∙ Tory Bruno, President and CEO of United Launch Alliance
    ∙ Wes Bush, CEO of Northrop Grumman
    ∙ Marillyn Hewson, CEO of Lockheed Martin Corporation
    ∙ David Thompson, Founder and CEO of Orbital ATK
    ∙ Dennis Muilenberg, CEO of the Boeing Company

    Shills For OldSpace

    ∙ Mary Lynne Dittmar, President and CEO of The Coalition for Deep Space Exploration
    ∙ Kay Ivey, Governor of Alabama
    ∙ Steve Crisafulli, Former Speaker of the Florida House of Representatives
    ∙ Jack Schmitt, Apollo 17 Astronaut and former Senator
    ∙ Jim Ellis, retired 4-star Admiral, former head of STRATCOM, and member of the Space Foundation Board of Directors
    ∙ Dean Cheng, Scholar at the Heritage Foundation

    Possible Shills For OldSpace

    ∙ Pamela Vaughan, Board Certified Science Teacher
    ∙ Les Lyles, Retired 4-star Air Force General and member of the NASA Advisory Council

    Trumpets

    ∙ Eileen Collins, 4-time Shuttle astronaut, first female shuttle commander
    ∙ Fred Klipsch, Founder and Chairman of Hoosiers for Quality Education

    Possible Trumpet
    ∙ Newt Gingrich, Author, former Speaker of the House

    NewSpace

    ∙ Faith Ozmen, CEO of the Sierra Nevada Corporation
    ∙ Gwynne Shotwell, President and COO of SpaceX
    ∙ Bob Smith, CEO of Blue Origin
    ∙ Mandy Vaughn, President of VOX Launch Company
    ∙ Tim Ellis, CEO of Relativity Space

    Shills For NewSpace

    ∙ Eric Stallmer, President of the Commercial Spaceflight Federation
    ∙ Stu Witt, Founder of Mojave Air and Spaceport, former Chairman of the Commercial Spaceflight Federation

    Possible Shills For NewSpace

    ∙ Buzz Aldrin, Gemini 12 and Apollo 11 astronaut
    ∙ Pete Worden, Former Air Force General and NASA Ames Center Director

    Not Enough Information

    ∙ David Wolf, 4-time Shuttle astronaut and physician
    ∙ Pam Melroy, 3-time Shuttle astronaut and former Deputy Director at DARPA
    ∙ G.P. Bud Peterson, President of the Georgia Institute of Technology
    ∙ Homer Hickam, Author of the book “Rocket Boys” and former NASA MSC engineer

  • ThomasLMatula

    The National Space Coucil recognizes the most important element in creating a robust space future is getting the regulatory environment right. It will be the enabler of space commerce by allowing new markets to be developed, not the crumbs from NASA.

    Second is getting military space prepared and structured for the new age of space and easy space access. It is important that the ensure the security of American assets, both civilian and military, and ensure they will be able to the war fighters on the ground when needed.

    NASA and whatever it’s HSF goal of the day is really isn’t that important. For starters it will probably waste years studying how to implement it. Then when it has a plan the next Administration will just change it anyway.

    And science at NASA is even less important since it’s basically on autopilot. Flagship missions like JWST and WFRIST are almost impossible to kill no matter how much they run over budget, so why waste valuable time on them? And as for the rest of the science, it’s also not important enough to waste the concil’s time on. Just leave it at its current funding level and let the scientists argue how to divide it up like they do now. Given this it’s easy to see no scientists were included in the advisory group, they simply wouldn’t have any useful to contribute to the decisions that are needed.

  • Vladislaw

    I wonder how much weight this group has

    “Tory Bruno, President and CEO of United Launch Alliance
    Wes Bush, CEO of Northrop Grumman
    Marillyn Hewson, CEO of Lockheed Martin Corporation
    David Thompson, Founder and CEO of Orbital ATK
    Dennis Muilenberg, CEO of the Boeing Company”

    Over this group

    “Faith Ozmen, CEO of the Sierra Nevada Corporation
    Gwynne Shotwell, President and COO of SpaceX
    Bob Smith, CEO of Blue Origin
    Mandy Vaughn, President of VOX Launch Company
    Tim Ellis, CEO of Relativity Space”

    Publically held and Privately held.

  • Vladislaw

    As Bill White used to say over at Space Politics for years.. don’t try and go through NASA go around them.

  • Tom Billings

    Certainly for science this will be true again and again, with all the previous government funders. The more that happens, the more science will become trusted again.

  • Vladislaw

    I divided industry a little more .. the top 5 are all publically held corporations with some shareholder power.

    I wonder how much weight this group has

    “Tory Bruno, President and CEO of United Launch Alliance
    Wes Bush, CEO of Northrop Grumman
    Marillyn Hewson, CEO of Lockheed Martin Corporation
    David Thompson, Founder and CEO of Orbital ATK
    Dennis Muilenberg, CEO of the Boeing Company”

    Over this group

    “Faith Ozmen, CEO of the Sierra Nevada Corporation
    Gwynne Shotwell, President and COO of SpaceX
    Bob Smith, CEO of Blue Origin
    Mandy Vaughn, President of VOX Launch Company
    Tim Ellis, CEO of Relativity Space”

    Publically held and Privately held.

  • Vladislaw

    SNC may be new space but is an old military contractor?

  • duheagle

    Au contraire, mon frere. NewSpace is quite well represented. I’ve revised your breakdowns a bit to emphasize the OldSpace/NewSpace divide and left out irrelevancies such who is or is not a “Trumpet.”

    The core of each “side” is the roster of execs. That’s a dead heat at five apiece. OldSpace leads in “shills” 7 to 5 by my reckoning. I’ve added your “possibles” to the main list in each case.

    I also added Eileen Collins to OldSpace. I could find no direct endorsement of SLS-Orion from her, but she is on record as regretting the Constellation cancellation and has advocated “strategic stability” for NASA. YMMV

    I moved two names from OldSpace to Not Enough Information along with one of your designated Trumpets. Neither Klipsch nor Cheng have ever made any public statement I could find anent SLS-Orion nor does either man have any obvious ties to NewSpace.

    Crisafulli’s role as former FL House Speaker is less relevant to his presence on this panel than his current status as the FL House representative for the district including Kennedy and Canaveral. As such, he’s likelier to be a fence-sitter than a rabid partisan of either Old or New Space. Both provide a lot of employment in his district. I think the trend favors NewSpace over both the near and long terms. If SLS and Orion go Poof! in a couple years, Crisafulli probably won’t be a cheerleader for said decision, but he’ll also be happy to see SpaceX or Blue Origin, or even NGO-ATK, take over LC-39B and as much of the rest of the legacy Kennedy infrastructure as can be usefully repurposed. Crisafulli probably leans OldSpace, but he’s not in a position where fanatacism on that point really pays any dividends.

    Hickam is sort of the other way around. His background is OldSpace, but he’s met Elon and toured the SpaceX Hawthorne works. He has publicly expressed appreciation to all the SpaceX employees who told him Rocket Boys was the book that stirred their initial interest in rockets and space.

    Here are my revisions of your lists:

    OldSpace

    ∙ Tory Bruno, President and CEO of United Launch Alliance
    ∙ Wes Bush, CEO of Northrop Grumman
    ∙ Marillyn Hewson, CEO of Lockheed Martin Corporation
    ∙ David Thompson, Founder and CEO of Orbital ATK
    ∙ Dennis Muilenberg, CEO of the Boeing Company

    Shills For OldSpace

    ∙ Mary Lynne Dittmar, President and CEO of The Coalition for Deep Space Exploration
    ∙ Kay Ivey, Governor of Alabama
    ∙ Jack Schmitt, Apollo 17 Astronaut and former Senator
    ∙ Jim Ellis, retired 4-star Admiral, former head of STRATCOM, and member of the Space Foundation Board of Directors
    ∙ Pamela Vaughan, Board Certified Science Teacher
    ∙ Les Lyles, Retired 4-star Air Force General and member of the NASA Advisory Council
    ∙ Eileen Collins, 4-time Shuttle astronaut, first female shuttle commander

    NewSpace

    ∙ Faith Ozmen, CEO of the Sierra Nevada Corporation
    ∙ Gwynne Shotwell, President and COO of SpaceX
    ∙ Bob Smith, CEO of Blue Origin
    ∙ Mandy Vaughn, President of VOX Launch Company
    ∙ Tim Ellis, CEO of Relativity Space

    Shills For NewSpace

    ∙ Newt Gingrich, Author, former Speaker of the House
    ∙ Eric Stallmer, President of the Commercial Spaceflight Federation
    ∙ Stu Witt, Founder of Mojave Air and Spaceport, former Chairman of the Commercial Spaceflight Federation
    ∙ Buzz Aldrin, Gemini 12 and Apollo 11 astronaut
    ∙ Pete Worden, Former Air Force General and NASA Ames Center Director

    Not Enough Information

    ∙ Dean Cheng, Scholar at the Heritage Foundation
    ∙ Fred Klipsch, Founder and Chairman of Hoosiers for Quality Education
    ∙ Steve Crisafulli, Former Speaker of the Florida House of Representatives
    ∙ David Wolf, 4-time Shuttle astronaut and physician
    ∙ Pam Melroy, 3-time Shuttle astronaut and former Deputy Director at DARPA
    ∙ G.P. Bud Peterson, President of the Georgia Institute of Technology
    ∙ Homer Hickam, Author of the book “Rocket Boys” and former NASA MSC engineer

  • Tom Billings

    SNC are a long-time military contractor, though seldom on large projects as a prime. The category I’ve always put them in is an experiment. One for seeing whether a small Old Space core can be grown through SAA contracts to the point where they can act like and become a New Space market-oriented company. Interesting tech, but can they make the transition? We shall see. Like the rest of society, the differentiator between pre-industrial and industrial productivity for space activity is seldom the tech, but the human focus of attention on who they serve and who, how and where they get planning information from.

  • Paul451

    SNC may be new space but is an old military contractor?

    Yeah, I was debating throwing them in with OldSpace. They just seem to sync up better with the NewSpace mindset.

    Homer Hickam […] was pretty much anti commercial at the time and pro NASA monster rocket constellation program

    Thanks, I had no such info.

  • Paul451

    The reason identifying the Trumpets separately from OldSpace/NewSpace is important, is that they are going to reliably push whatever agenda the Trump advisors or Pence are pushing. (Depending on who is driving space policy in the Trump Administration.) It’s worthless treating them as independent voices, there could be one or fifteen, it’s functionally the same thing.

  • SamuelRoman13

    I missed the point of the name of this group. Can you tell me the one thing all of these people are users of? Or will you list what each one uses. Like SpaceX uses aluminum. Or a joke like all uses taxpayer money. They use Space to make money?

  • duheagle

    Homer has evolved a bit since then.

  • duheagle

    SNC was a long-time aeronautical subcontractor that saw an opportunity to engineer itself a jump in status by entering the space business in a NewSpace-y way. I’d say it’s worked pretty well.

  • duheagle

    Your Trump Derangement Syndrome has you hallucinating.

    I think Eileen Collins is wrong to defend the Program of Record, but she’s nobody’s sock puppet. Her speech to the Republican National Convention in 2016 didn’t even endorse Trump, though that had been widely expected. And anyone who thinks Newt is in thrall to anyone but himself is running a high fever. As for Klipsch, he’s less a Trumpet than a Pence-ling.

    In any event, even if the Trump administration had some well-rehearsed mouthpieces on this panel, they’d still have very little to say. Other than looking to clear the regulatory decks for commercial space, and a details-free admonition for the U.S. to go back to the Moon, the Trump administration – at least to this point – has no space policy.

  • duheagle

    I don’t think the publicly held/privately held distinction matters very much. It also isn’t as clean a distinction as you seem to think. O-ATK is in the process of being absorbed by N-G. ULA is privately held by the publicly-traded Boeing and LockMart. The OldSpace group have much larger total annual revenues, but these are also mostly derived from their non-space businesses.

    The aggregate market caps of the OldSpacers are also impressive. But the “privately-held” Blue Origin is backed by the full faith and credit of Jeff Bezos whose wealth comes from publicly-traded Amazon. The market cap of Amazon is not only far greater than that of any one of the publicly-traded OldSpace companies, it is over twice as large as all three of them put together.

  • ThomasLMatula

    SNC, a firm that specializes in exploiting the minority contractor requirements for government contracts basically bought out SpaceDev after Jim Benson died. They is how they entered into New Space.

  • ThomasLMatula

    Actually that is a very good space policy for a business oriented Administration. You are just used to space being micro-managed by Presidents like Obama that want photo ops in front of spaceships at NASA.

  • ThomasLMatula

    And the key is BOTH Old Space and New Space benefit from a more streamlined regulatory environment. Its about more than the usual zero-sum game for NASA money that passes for space policy in the Swamp.

  • duheagle

    I quite agree that a lack of policy is far preferable to an actively bad policy.

  • duheagle

    Most people who leverage special privileges acquired via affirmative action don’t succeed as well as SNC has. As for SpaceDev, SNC took advantage of an opportunity. Acquiring SpaceDev was hardly an unmixed blessing in any case. The hybrid rocket stuff turned out to be worthless.