Today Donald Trump signed an executive order reviving the National Space Council, an organization that existed in two previous iterations, from 1958 - 1973, and more recently from 1989 to 1993. President Obama raised the idea of reviving the council during a speech in 2008, but did not do it. In this version, the council will be chaired by Vice President Mike Pence while other members include the secretaries of State, Defense, Commerce and Homeland Security. The list doesn't stop there, but the council's exact responsibilities aren't quite clear. Its directive is to advise the president, plus coordinate and implement his space policy, however it "shall not interfere with the existing lines of authority in or responsibilities of any agencies."
In response, acting NASA Administrator Robert Lightfoot said "The establishment of the council is another demonstration of the Trump Administration's deep interest in our work, and a testament to the importance of space exploration to our economy, our nation, and the planet as a whole."
During an event to sign the order, astronaut Buzz Aldrin proclaimed "to infinity and beyond," and President Trump responded "This is infinity here. It could be infinity. We don't really know. But it could be. It has to be something -- but it could be infinity, right? Okay."
Acting NASA administrator Robert Lightfoot:
"I am pleased that President Trump has signed an executive order reestablishing the National Space Council. The council existed previously from 1989-1993, and a version of it also existed as the National Aeronautics and Space Council from 1958-1973. As such, the council has guided NASA from our earliest days and can help us achieve the many ambitious milestones we are striving for today.
"This high-level group advises the president and comprises the leaders of government agencies with a stake in space, including the NASA administrator, the Secretaries of State, Commerce, Defense, and others, and will be chaired by Vice President Mike Pence. It will help ensure that all aspects of the nation's space power -- national security, commerce, international relations, exploration, and science, are coordinated and aligned to best serve the American people. A Users' Advisory Group also will be convened so that the interests of industries and other non-federal entities are represented.
"The establishment of the council is another demonstration of the Trump Administration's deep interest in our work, and a testament to the importance of space exploration to our economy, our nation, and the planet as a whole."