Trump to Chair National Space Council Meeting on Monday

President Donald Trump signs an executive order reviving the National Space Council. (Credit: The White House)

President Donald Trump will chair the third public meeting of the National Space Council on Monday. The previous two sessions were chaired by Vice President Mike Pence, who heads up the council

I haven ‘t been able to find a time or agenda for the meeting, but when it does go live the event will be shown on NASA TV (https://www.nasa.gov/multimedia/nasatv/index.html) and the White House Live website (www.whitehouse.gov/live/).

Although there is no published agenda, one likely topic of discussion is Space Policy Directive 3, which is focused on how the government will handle space traffic management.

The Space Council’s Users Advisory Group is scheduled to meet on Monday at NASA headquarters from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. EDT. The meeting will be webcast via Webex and be available via phone dial up.

Andy Pasztor of The Wall Street Journal reports that former House speaker Newt Gingrich and former NASA Ames Director Pete Worden have been dumped from the advisory group due to issues involving their business and financial ties.

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.

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Trump, Musk, Bezos, Bruno & the Future of America’s Space Program

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

There’s been a lot of speculation since the election on  what president-elect Donald Trump will do with the nation’s civilian and military space programs.

Two Trump advisors laid out some goals before the election: more commercial partnerships, boosting defense spending, increasing hypersonics and slashing NASA Earth science. However, most details remain unclear.

A key question is whether Trump really cares about space all that much. That’s a little hard to discern given his comments during  the campaign.

When first questioned on the subject, he expressed a preference for fixing potholes in America’s crumbling streets over sending people to Mars. Trump has promised a large infrastructure repair program.

During a visit to Florida, he attacked the Obama Administration for allegedly wrecking NASA and the space program. During another appearance in the Sunshine State about a week later, Trump praised the space agency for how well it was performing.

So, NASA is either doing great, a disaster that needs to be made great again, or an obstacle to pothole repair. Assuming Trump actually cares, and he’s willing to spend some money on making NASA great again, what might he do? What major decisions does he face?
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Space & Politics Collide in GOP Convention

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

The Republican Convention starts on Monday, and the event is already stirring up some controversy. (Donald Trump? Controversy? Nooo….how could that be?)

Former NASA astronaut Eileen Collins, who became the first woman to command a space shuttle before the space agency retired the ones it had left to museums, is scheduled to speak during the convention at which delegates are schedule to nominate Trump for President.

There’s a move a foot to free the delegates to vote for another candidate, an effort that doesn’t seem likely to succeed, but is almost sure to cause violence if it did.

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Vote in Our New Inspiration Mars Poll

Gingrich PollHey everyone.

We’ve got a new poll up about Inspiration Mars. We’re asking whether NASA should refocus its work on Space Launch System and Orion to support Dennis Tito’s ambitious plans to send two astronauts around the Red Planet.  NASA would need to spend about $700 million to support the mission, which would cost about $1 billion overall.

Please cast your ballot today! Remember: vote early. Vote often. Just vote, dammit! Vote!

In other poll-related news, Parabolic Arc’s readers have strongly supported the idea that Newt Gingrich should be brought back from his desired trip to space. A full 55 percent of you voted that he should make a round trip to space, with 45 percent in favor of making the voyage one way.

In a political race, that would be a very strong showing of the voters’ preference for one candidate over another. In this case, it’s a tad disturbing that so many people would shoot the former House Speaker off into a deadly environment with no hope of ever returning safely to the Earth. In fact, if only five votes had gone the other way, there would have been a narrow majority in favor of leaving Gingrich out there permanently.

More evidence, in my mind, that Gingrich’s quadrennial efforts to obtain the highest office in the land are doomed to failure. Just too much baggage. Not enough to prevent him from going into space, but sufficient to deny him election to national office.

Vote in Our New Newt Gingrich Poll

Newt_Gingrich_by_Gage_Skidmore
Newt Gingrich, America and Moon President in Waiting

Newt Gingrich is out promoting his 27th book, talking up his desire to go to space. We’ve got a new poll about the nature of his planned voyage to space. Please vote in it.

Gingrich also bemoaned that his pledge to establish a moon colony was widely ridiculed during his latest failed attempt to win the Presidency. I  sympathized the the former House Speaker when his vision was mocked.  I actually liked it;  I didn’t think it was at all crazy.

His belief that the American people would ever elect him president, on the other hand, is full on nuts. And that’s why I liked Saturday Night Live’s sketch, “Newt Gingrich: Moon President.” It was as much about the craziness of Gingrich running the moon (or the country) as anything else.

But, I digress.

I gave some thought to suggesting that instead of writing books, giving speeches and making doomed Presidential runs, Gingrich should put his money where his mouth is and start a space company. You know, give the private sector a try and try to build something that would advance humanity’s expansion into space.

But, given his erratic management of the House and his own Presidential campaigns, it’s probably best that he keep his feet firmly planted in the world of punditry.

But, going to space is another matter. Please cast your ballot in our newest poll. Remember: vote early! Vote often! Just vote, dammit! Vote!

Golden Spike Team Includes Technical Experts, Media Figures and Politicians

The Golden Spike Company has an experienced and eclectic group of people involved in its operations. This group ranges from former Apollo Flight Director Gerry Griffin and former space shuttle program chief Wayne Hale to best-selling author Andy Chaikin and Star Trek set designer Mike Okuda.

Silicon Valley venture capitalist Esther Dyson sits on the Board of Directors with NewSpace veterans Taber MacCallum and Max Vozoff. The company’s advisors include astronaut Pete Conrad’s widow Nancy, former Congressmen Newt Gingrich and Bob Walker, and former New Mexico Governor and Spaceport America champion Bill Richardson.

Partner companies include Moon Express, Paragon Space Development Corporation, Masten Space Systems and others.

Complete lists of the company’s team members and partners follows after the break.
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Tea Party in Space Endorses Gingrich for President

Newt_Gingrich (Credit: Gage Skidmore)

TPIS PR — (Titusville FL) — Tea Party in Space (TPIS) is excited to endorse Newt Gingrich for President of the United States.  Mr. Gingrich is the only candidate who consistently articulates a bright vision for future American space exploration and settlement.  Mr. Gingrich’s unique approach of utilizing the government and private sector is exactly what NASA needs.

“Newt Gingrich is the only credible candidate in this primary race in Florida who has any credibility when it comes to America’s future in space,” said Andrew Gasser, President and National Coordinator for TPIS.  “Newt will not have to take a poll or rely on ‘advisors’ who have a history of poor history of delays and significant budget overruns.  Instead, he wants to return NASA to the beaming example of American exceptionalism that it once was.”

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A Sign of Things to Come: Gingrichian Accountability

For me, this was the most interesting exchange from last night’s debate in Jacksonville. Gingrich was asked to actually explain something he had said about Mitt Romney. He responded by, in essence, calling Wolf Blitzer an idiot for even asking the question and inferring that answering it was beneath his dignity and the high-minded tone of the event. He also added this little gem:

GINGRICH: I did. And I’m perfectly happy to say that on an interview on some TV show. But this is a national debate, where you have a chance to get the four of us to talk about a whole range of issues.

We should expect more of the same should Gingrich win the presidency.

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Romney, Gingrich Debate Space Policy

The Republican presidential debate in Tampa included a question about the space program that was answered by the two front runners. A transcript is below followed by some analysis.

BETH REINHARD: Governor Romney, this is the state that put the first men on the moon. America right now has no way to put people into space except to hitch a ride with the Russians. Meanwhile, the Chinese are ramping up their space program. At a time when you all want to shrink federal spending, should space exploration be a priority?

Governor Romney?

MITT ROMNEY: It should certainly be a priority. What we have right now is a president who does not have a vision or a mission for NASA. And as a result of that, there are people on the space coast that are suffering. And Florida itself is — is suffering as a result.

So what`s the right way forward? Well, I happen to believe our space program is important not only for science, but also for commercial development and for military development. And I believe the right mission for — for NASA should be determined by a president together with a collection of people from those different areas, from NASA, from the Air Force space program, from our leading universities, and from commercial enterprises, bring them together, discuss a wide range of options for NASA, and then — and then have NASA not just funded by the federal government, but also by commercial enterprises. Have some of the research done in our universities.

Let`s have a collaborative effort with business, with — with government, with a military, as well as with our educational institutions. Have a mission, once again excite our young people about the potential of space and the commercial potential will pay for itself down the road.This is a great opportunity. Florida has technology. The people here on the space coast have technology and vision and passion that America needs. And with a president that is actually willing to create a mission and a vision for — for NASA and for space, we can continue to lead the world.

Mitt Romney. (Credit: Gage Skidmore)
REINHARD: Speaker Gingrich, would you put more tax dollars into the space race and commit to putting an American on Mars, instead of relying on the private sector?
NEWT GINGRICH:Well, the two are not incompatible. For example, most of the great breakthroughs in aviation in the `20s and `30s were as a result of prizes. Lindbergh flew to Paris for a $25,000 prize. I would like to see vastly more of the money spent encouraging the private sector into very aggressive experimentation.

And I`d like a leaner NASA.I don`t think building a bigger bureaucracy and having a greater number of people sit in rooms and talk gets you there. But if we had a series of goals that we were prepared to offer prizes for, there`s every reason to believe you have a lot of folks in this country and around the world who would put up an amazing amount of money and would make the space coast literally hum with activity because they`d be drawn to achieve these prizes.

Going back to the moon permanently, getting to Mars as rapidly as possible, building a series of space stations and developing commercial space, there are a whole series of things you can do that could be dynamic that are more than just better government bureaucracy. They`re fundamentally leapfrogging into a world where you`re incentivizing people who are visionaries and people in the private sector to invest very large amounts of money in finding very romantic and exciting futures.

Newt Gingrich. (Credit: Gage Skidmore)
EDITOR’S ANALYSIS:Romney doesn’t say much of anything here. He has no specific solutions for the Space Coast, which is suffering badly due to the end of the space shuttle program. I’m not sure if this is a result of a lack of preparation (space isn’t on the radar yet), or if it an attempt to be clever and not get tied down to any specific policy prescriptions that he might have to go back on later. Either way, it doesn’t give much guidance to unemployed aerospace workers in Florida.

Gingrich’s approach is more specific: a smaller NASA, more commercial space, and ever larger prizes. It’s not clear how a smaller space agency will go over along the Space Coast. The other question is just how much prizes can be spun up. Lunar lander challenge? Sure. A prize to replicate what the X-15 did 40 years earlier? OK. Human mission to the moon and Mars? I’m not so sure.

Gingrich has promised a JFK-like space speech later this week, so we’ll see if he puts any meat on the bones. Romney also has a chance to elaborate on his plan in the run-up to the Jan. 31 primary.

Gingrich to Channel JFK This Week in Florida

Newt Gingrich. (Credit: Gage Skidmore)

Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich intends to give a major address on space policy while campaigning in the Sunshine State this week.

“I’ll be at the Space Coast in Florida this week giving a speech, a visionary speech, on the United States going back into space in the John F. Kennedy tradition rather than the current bureaucracy,” he said during an appearance on C-SPAN’s “Washington Journal” program Sunday morning.

The former Speaker of the House has been critical of NASA’s bureaucracy and favored commercial activities in space. His 1984 book, Window of Opportunity, included a chapter about space.

Gingrich is coming off a surprise win on Saturday over Mitt Romney in the South Carolina primary. Romney had earlier criticized Gingrich’s support for human settlements on the moon.

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