Newt’s Newsletter: Renewing American Leadership in space.
Announcer: Ladies and gentlemen, General Jack Dailey.
Jack Dailey: Well, good morning, ladies and gentlemen, and welcome to the Stephen F. Udvar-Hazy center. It’s my very great pleasure to welcome you here today. It is an honor to host the first meeting of the newly reestablished National Space Council. By choosing this location to begin their work, the council is sending a strong message about its intentions for our future in space.
Rather than in an executive boardroom or an agency conference room, this first chapter of the new space age will be written here among the icons of our nation’s highest, proudest achievements. From the helmet and gloves that Neil Armstrong wore when he planted the flag on the moon, to Discovery: Champion of the Space Shuttle Fleet, the James S. McDonnell Space Hangar contains artifacts that capture the scope of America’s legacy and future in outer space like no other venue.
From the beginning, the space program has been a partnership between industry and government, working together toward important national goals. From the first Mercury capsule to the International Space Station, private-public partnerships are the foundation of how America solves complex problems and accomplishes great things.
Many of those same organizations that are here today helped us build this museum, and we’re delighted to have them back, and we’re grateful for the part that they have played in the plot the country’s new course in space. The person leading that charge is no stranger here. During his tenure as representative of the Indiana’s 6th district, he led a virtual field trip from the Udvar-Hazy center to classrooms back home, ensuring that children in Muncie had the same access to the Smithsonian Institution as visitors to the nation’s capital.
That commitment led to our shared mission of inspiring future innovators and explorer, will be the key to National Space Council’s bold vision for the future. This summer, in Houston, the vice president welcomed what he called the newest class of American heroes, the 2017 class of NASA astronauts.
He said they will carry our nation to even greater heights of discovery and inspire our children and grandchildren every bit as much as their forbearers in this storied American program. Those 12 men and women are of a generation, now the largest on earth, learned long after we took our first small steps into the next frontier.
The work begun here today will map out the giant leaps they will make on behalf of their country. Captain Gene Cernan, the last man on the moon, described the Apollo program as a decade out of time, a 21st century event born into the middle of the 20th century. 50 years later, the time is at hand for the heirs of Apollo to take up the mantle.
It will be up to that new generation of innovators and explorers to lead the next great adventure. It is up to us to pass them the torch. It is now my great pleasure to welcome the chair of the National Space Council and the vice president of the United States, the honorable Mike Pence.
VP Pence: Thank you all. Thank you all. General Dailey, thank you for that kind introduction, and thank you for your extraordinary record of service to the United States of America and to this national treasure.
Members of the cabinet, distinguished members of Congress who join us here today, honored guests, and to our gracious host, the Smithsonian Institution, the National Air and Space Museum, and all the men and women of the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center, it is my great honor to be with you today here at the inaugural meeting of the reconstituted National Space Council.
And I bring greetings from a man who is committed to American leadership on earth and in the boundless expanse of space, the 45th president of the United States of America, President Donald Trump. In his inaugural address, the president rededicated America once again, to lead in the heavens, and in his words, to unlock the mysteries of space.
And to guide this new heir of American space leadership, President Trump relaunched the National Space Council, and it is my great honor — in fact, it’s very humbling for me — to have the opportunity to serve as its chair at the first meeting in nearly a quarter-century.
I can’t think of a better place for this first meeting than right here at the National Air and Space Museum. In the hangars and galleries of this museum, some of the great monuments of human ingenuity and daring have come to rest. The first airplane to complete a transcontinental voyage across the United States, which took 49 days, in 1911; Behind all of you, the spy plane that led American’s reconnaissance operations during the Cold War, faster than three times the speed of sound and at more than 16 miles above the earth, the legendary SR-71 Blackbird; And the shuttle behind me, that ferried astronauts to space for more than 26 years and logged a record of 140 million miles, the space shuttle Discovery is a national treasure.
Each vessel here represents a pinnacle in the history of man’s quest for knowledge and adventure. They remind us of the giants on whose shoulders we all stand. They inspire the millions of visitors who pass through this museum every year to dream bigger, work harder, and push farther in our own day.
Today, in the shadow of this history, we pledge to do what America has always done. We will push the boundaries of human knowledge, we will blaze new trails into that great frontier, and we will once again astonish the world as we boldly go to meet our future, in the skies and in the stars.
Now, it’s altogether fitting that we chose this week for the first meeting of the National Space Council. Yesterday marked the 60th anniversary of Sputnik, that 184-pound satellite that changed the course of history. On that day, six decades ago yesterday, the race for space began, and the then Soviet Union took an early lead. But the sight of that light blinking across that October sky spurred America to action.
We refused to accept a future in space written by the enemies of freedom, and so the United States of America vowed to claim our rightful place as the undisputed leader in the exploration of the heavens. And 12 years later, with one giant leap for mankind, America led in space.
But more than half a century later, we had seated ground, and so we gather here today to renew this same mission in our time. By reviving the National Space Council, President Donald Trump has declared to all of the world America will lead in space once again.
For my part, as I said, it’s an honor to chair this council. I caught space fever when I was a kid, back in a small town in southern Indiana. Some of the most precious memories of my youth were my little family gathered around a black and white television watching images of American heroes making history in the stars.
As a member of Congress, I actually asked to serve on the NASA subcommittee in the very first year in the Congress. I had the privilege, along with my wife and all of our children, to attend several space shuttle launches as a family. I actually have no doubt that, as I told the general this morning, a fellow Marine, with my son, that I think my son was inspired to be a Marine Corps aviator when he was a 10-year-old boy, sat in those grandstands and watched with awe as America’s astronauts hurtled into the heavens.
Now, I said at the time that the sights and sounds of the launch at Cape Canaveral were miraculous. It was almost as though, as the flames came from beneath the ship, it was — it was as though the earth was giving birth to a piece of the sun and sending it home. The power and the symbolism of unquestioned American leadership was inspiring to us all.
But in recent years, the clarity of our purpose and the confidence of our conviction that propelled the United States to be a vanguard of space exploration seems to have waned. America seems to have lost our edge in space, and those days are over. Because the American people never lost our passion to explore space and uncover its secrets.
This summer, I visited the Kennedy Space Center at Cape Canaveral, the Johnson Space Center in Houston, where I met with men and women of NASA including, as the general said, the newest class of astronauts. They still embody, as generations did before, they embody the courage and excellence that’s long inspired the American people.
But for too long, our government’s commitment has failed to match our peoples’ spirit and meet our nation’s needs. The truth is that America entered this new millennium without a coherent policy, a coherent vision for outer space. And in the absence of American leadership, other nations have seized the opportunity to stake their claim in the infinite frontier.
Rather than lead in space, too often we’ve chosen to drift, and as we learned 60 years ago, when we drift, we fall behind. Our struggle to find the direction and purpose of America’s space program dates back decades to the post-Apollo period. We had just won the race to the moon and suddenly the question became, what should we do? Where should we go next?
In the debate that followed, sending Americans to the mood was treated as a triumph to be remembered but not repeated. Every passing year that the moon remained squarely in the rearview mirror further eroded our ability to return to the lunar domain and made it more likely that we would forget why we ever wanted to go in the first place.
And now we find ourselves in a position where the United States has not sent an American astronaut beyond low Earth orbit in 45 years. Across the board, our space program has suffered from apathy and neglect. When the space shuttle program ended in 2011, we had four years to find an assured way for our astronauts to get into space.
In the meantime, we agreed to pay Russia to hitch a ride on their rockets to the International Space Station. But four years turned into five, then five years turned into six, and here we are in 2017, still relying on the Russians to ferry our astronauts to the International Space Station, at a cost per seat that now stands at more than $76 million.
Meanwhile, rather than competing with other nations to create the best space technology, the previous administration chose capitulation. According to the US Intelligence Community, Russia and China are pursuing a full-range of anti-satellite technology to reduce US military effectiveness, and they’re increasingly considering attacks against satellite systems as part of their future warfare doctrine.
Americas abdication of leadership in space has spurred our nation to action once more, and just as with Sputnik six decades ago, we have resolved, with the leadership of President Donald Trump, to never again let America fall behind in the race for space. That’s what brings us here today, and under the president’s leadership, we will restore our proud legacy of leadership on this next great frontier and America will lead again.
Twice before, America’s had a National Space Council charged with advising the president on national policy and strategy for space. The first space council helped marshal America’s energies and skills during the infancy of our attempts to reach the stars, and it was under the council’s watch that America put a man in outer space, put a man on the moon, with less than a decade between them.
Now, President Trump has charged this National Space Council with reviewing America’s current policy and our long-range goals, and coordinating all national space activities, from security to commerce to exploration. Today, more than ever before, our nation’s prosperity, security, and identity depend on American leadership in space. And the membership of this council, all members of our cabinet, critical members of our national security infrastructure reflect the multifaceted nature of our work.
Joining me here today as members of this council are several members of the president’s cabinet; leaders in defense, intelligence, commerce, transportation, space exploration, science, and technology. Would you please give them another round of applause for making this a priority?
But to fully unlock the mysteries of space, President Trump recognizes we must look beyond the halls of government for input and guidance. At the president’s direction, the National Space Council will also, in his words, “draw from the expertise and insights from scientists, innovators, and business leaders like never before.”
We will tap into the bottomless well of American innovation once again. American companies are on the cutting edge of space technology and they’re developing new rockets, spaceships and satellites that will take us further into space faster than ever before.
Like the railroads that brought American explorers, entrepreneurs, and settlers to tame the wild west, these groundbreaking new technologies will open untold opportunities to extend the range of American action and values into the new worlds of outer space. And by fostering much stronger partnerships between the federal government and realm of industry and bringing the full force of our national interest to bear, American leadership in space will be assured.
The objectives of the National Space Council are clear. The president has charged us with laying the foundation for America to maintain a constant, commercial human presence in low Earth orbit. From there, we will turn our attention back toward our celestial neighbors. We will return American astronauts to the moon, not only to leave behind footprints and flags, but to build the foundation we need to send Americans to Mars and beyond.
The moon will be a stepping stone, a training ground, a venue to strengthen our commercial and international partnerships as we refocus America’s space program toward human space exploration. And under President Trump, this council will spur the development of space technology to protect America’s national security.
Space is vital to our national security. I saw firsthand when I visited Schriever Air Force base and the Redstone Arsenal earlier this year. And as I said, our adversaries are aggressively developing jamming, hacking, and other technologies intended to cripple military surveillance, navigation, communication systems. In the face of these actions, America must be as dominant in space as we are here on earth.
My friends, the task that lies before us will require the highest level of commitment and dedication. Now, the work before us will be difficult, but difficulty always brings out America’s best, and America’s best is unbeatable by anyone, anytime. We won the race to the moon a half a century ago and now we will win the 21st century in space.
Under President Trump’s leadership and with the guidance of this National Space Council, the United States will usher in a new era of space leadership for our nation that will benefit every facet of our national life; Will strengthen our economy as we unlock new opportunities, new technologies, and new sources of prosperity; Will inspire our children to seek education in science, technology, engineering and math; Will enhance our defense and advance the security of our citizens. But most of all, as the president believes, we will renew the American spirit itself and rekindle our belief that America can accomplish anything.
As President Trump has said, in his words, “It is America’s destiny to be the leader amongst nations on our adventure into the great unknown.” And today, we begin that latest chapter of that adventure. But as we embark, let us have faith. Faith, as the old book teaches us, that if we rise to the heavens, He will be there.
And as we make plans and we prepare recommendations for our president and our leaders in the Congress, we will also do so with the mind that there will be courageous men and women who will make those plans a reality. And our faith in them and our faith that they will not go alone will sustain us, as we go, as it ever has before.
So with thanks for all the members of the Space Council, thanks for all the honored guests from whom we will hear, welcome to the first gathering of the National Space Council. Let’s get to work.
Announcer: Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome Marillyn Hewson, President and CEO, Lockheed Martin; Dennis Muilenburg, President and CEO, the Boeing Company; David Thompson, President and CEO, Orbital ATK.
VP Pence: As our guests take their seats, allow me to welcome them, as I’ll do momentarily, but also I want to recognize all the distinguished members of the National Space Council and all the distinguished Americans who’ve gathered us for this first meeting. If you would hold your applause, I’ll get through this whole list, but I want to make sure you know all the members of this council.
Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, is here, Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Shanahan, our Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross, Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao, Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Elaine Duke, Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, Director of the Office of Management and Budget Mick Mulvaney, Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs General H.R. McMaster, the Administrator of NASA, Robert Lightfoot, Deputy Chief Technology Officer for the United States Michael Kratsios, Assistant to the President for Homeland Security, Tom Bossert, and the Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Paul Selva.
Would you join me in thanking all of the members of the panel who are joining us here today? With that, this first meeting of the National Space Council is called to order. I want to thank all the distinguished guests who are with us today for presentations on this first panel.
As I said in my opening remarks, today’s meeting is an opportunity for us to hear from leaders in our space community. We have a great lineup today and I’m eager to hear their thoughts, as our entire council is. Our first panel is focused on the Civil Space Program and deep space exploration efforts.
You just received a proper introduction onto the stage, so let me begin with the Chairman, President and CEO of Lockheed Martin, Marillyn Hewson, for your opening remarks.
Marillyn Hewson: Thank you, Mr. Vice President. Mr. Vice President and distinguished members of the National Space Council, it is an honor to appear before you today to contribute to a bold new vision for US leadership in space. This is an exciting time for our nation.
The reestablishment of the National Space Council comes as a new generation of young Americans looks to the moon, Mars, and beyond, with optimism, energy and wonder. Space has always been a frontier worthy of the American spirit. It demands our ingenuity and daring and it drives us to visionary research and long-term collaboration.
And throughout history, we have proven that US ventures in space lead to broad societal benefits that lift our national economy and strengthen us as one people. For decades, our technological leadership in space has strengthened our national security, so that Americans can live, work, and trade in peace. And just this past month, we once again saw the tremendous value of our space infrastructure as our nation was hit by three hurricanes of extraordinary power.
Because of our investments in space, our satellites helped government leaders plan for the worst. They helped millions of citizens prepare and evacuate key areas, and in the process, countless lives were saved. At Lockheed Martin, we have been proud to invest and to support our nation’s ventures in space, from interplanetary exploration to national security.
And among our many partnerships today, we are honored to be building the Orion deep space exploration vehicle for NASA, which will soon take American astronauts back to the moon and farther than we’ve ever gone before. As we look to the challenges of the 21st century, it is clear that the pace of technological change is accelerating and that it is imperative our nation act.
At Lockheed Martin, we see three keys to securing American leadership in space. Our nation will need clear and strong government leadership, visionary programs, and stable sustained investment. By taking these positive actions, we will enable industry to plan, invest, and innovate over the long-term. And in turn, our nation will foster a robust US supply chain with advanced manufacturers, high quality jobs, and transformative technologies.
Nothing better represents America’s optimism about the future than space, and nothing is more inspiring to the next generation of science, technology, engineering, and math students, than an America resolved to explore and unlock the mysteries of the universe together. Thank you and I look forward to your questions.
VP Pence: Thank you very much, Marillyn, for your comments. Next, we’ll hear opening remarks from the chairman, president and CEO of the Boeing Company, Dennis Muilenburg. Welcome.
Dennis Muilenburg: Thank you. Good morning, Mr. Vice President, distinguished guests, industry colleagues, and fellow panelists. I want to begin by thanking you, Mr. Vice President, for reconstituting the National Space Council. That’s a big step for our country, and important one, and I believe through this forum, the government industry and academia can discuss how to coauthor the next chapter of American leadership in space.
Boeing employees around the globe strive every day to deliver on our inspirational purpose and mission to connect, protect, explore, and inspire the world through aerospace innovation. Our aim is to lead the world in space exploration and to be a global champion for robust funding, advocacy, talent, and execution in both the civilian and military space arenas.
We are drawn to exploring the unknown and unraveling the universe’s greatest mysteries. It is this innate fascination with what comes next that has inspired us to join with NASA and international partners in a shared mission that has, over the course of decades, celebrated lunar footsteps, space shuttle launches, and the assembly of the International Space Station, to name a few.
While proud of our past, we are focused on the future. We continue to innovate and lead in every aspect of civil space operations. For example, NASA’s space launch system, built by Boeing and our teammates, will be the largest and most powerful rocket ever built, propelling the Orion capsule and humanity further into the solar system than ever before. And our CST-100 Starliner, launched on the 100 percent mission successful United Launch Alliance Atlas V Rocket, will return American astronauts to space on an American-built capsule in the not-too-distant future.
While others may dream, we actually do, and we do with the resources and expertise to deliver on our commitments. Working together, we will help humankind explore deep space and play a leadership role in America’s journey to Mars, as well as revolutionize launch and space access, through pioneering work on programs like the X-37B and the XS-1 Phantom Express, with our United States Air Force and DARPA customers.
We also are delivering advanced military space solutions, such as our wideband global SATCOM satellites, that provide critical, anywhere, anytime communications for troops around the globe, including those deployed in combat. But our collective success on this unprecedented journey is not guaranteed.
Everyone in this room, government and industry alike, must commit to fighting for American leadership in space. We believe the aerospace industry has an important role to play in partnering with the government to enact policies that not only will advance our efforts in space, but also grow the economy, support American jobs with an emphasis on restoring US manufacturing.
That’s why I continue to engage on behalf of Boeing, in arenas like this, as well as Chairman of the Aerospace Industries Association, a trade group representing the US Aerospace and Defense industry, where we are engaged on Capitol Hill with the administration and internationally.
As America’s largest manufacturing exporter, we’re a big part of the $80 billion a year favorable trade balance that the US aerospace sector injects into the nation’s economy. In addition to the roughly 140,000 employees who work directly for the Boeing company across the country, our supply chain of thousands of medium and small businesses in all 50 states support an additional 1.3 million American jobs.
Consider the tremendous ripple effect that our industry has on the nation, boosting economies and spurring innovation and new technologies. As a company and an industry, we remain committed to investing in our future. From driving innovation to supporting quality jobs and capital investments and working with the administration to advance policies, such as comprehensive tax reform, that will enable it.
Continued space exploration will take resources and cooperation. We must commit to an uninterrupted human presence in orbit and accelerate our momentum towards deep space. All too often, when America withdraws, other nations fill the void. We want the United States to retain its leadership position, build on the progress and substantial investments that have been made in recent years.
I am inspired by the boundless opportunity we have before us. Space has a near universal ability to capture our imagination, unlike anything else, to energize dreamers and doers alike. Achievements in space can unite a nation and we are proud — and it’s a proud reminder that we can accomplish amazing things as a country when we work together.
In that spirit, I call upon the National Space Council to set a bold national space agenda, with clear actionable objectives and resources to match. That will help the United States maintain its technological edge, engage and grow future talent critical to our competitive advantage, and it will excite and inspire generations of Americans to come.
In closing, Robert Gilruth, the first director of NASA’s manned spacecraft center, said that one fundamental requirement for mission success was employing, and I quote, “the kind of people who will not permit it to fail.” Vice President Pence and members of the National Space Council, we are those people, and you have our full commitment, as the Boeing Company and our teammates, to ensure we will succeed in this important endeavor. Boeing will be there leading every step of the way. Thank you and I look forward to your questions.
VP Pence: Great. Thank you, Dennis. Thank you for those words. We look forward to a dialogue before we get to questions. David Thompson, who is president and CEO of Orbital ATK. Welcome.
David Thompson: Mr. Vice President and members of the National Space Council, ladies and gentlemen, good morning. Thank you for inviting me to participate in this important and timely discussion of our country’s civil space programs. With strong leadership from the National Space Council, there are many exciting opportunities available to this administration for near-term space achievements. I would like to highlight three areas that I believe hold great promise for future accomplishments by NASA and other space-related enterprises in the next five years.
First, human voyages to cislunar space. Today, NASA is on the threshold of completing the development, and in about two years, conducting the initial flight of America’s first deep space transportation system since the Apollo Saturn vehicles of the late 1960s and early 1970s.
The space launch system rocket, and its companion Orion spacecraft, will give our country the capability of returning astronauts to the vicinity of the moon, both to further explore the lunar environment and to test the technologies and operational operations required for future expeditions to Mars. Now, with renewed sense of purpose and urgency, NASA and its industrial partners should be challenged to substantially accelerate the use and to fully exploit the capabilities of the SLS Orion system.
Backed by this administration’s financial and moral support, US astronauts can carry out several cislunar voyages during the next five years, including flights to the moon, to emplace and activate the first elements of a lunar orbit station, which NASA calls the deep space gateway.
Second, international and commercial partnerships. The International Space Station program has been a remarkably successful collaboration of 16 countries led by the United States, but facilitated and enhanced by the technological, operational, and financial contributions of many of our closest allies in Europe, North and South America, and Asia.
As we extend the reach of human activity to the lunar domain, we should seek to establish new long-term partnerships with those countries who share similar goals and who can contribute important elements of a deep space infrastructure. Similarly, over the past several decades, NASA has pioneered an array of successful public-private partnerships that have resulted in accelerated innovation and new, more affordable space capabilities for both government missions and commercial applications.
As the space agency plans and implements our return to cislunar space, it should aggressively engage with US commercial enterprises that are willing to privately develop and operate systems that can provide a range of in-space utilities, logistics, and related services. It should also encourage commercial use of the lunar orbit outpost for surface activities with scientific and economic potential.
By doing so, NASA can leverage its limited budgets with the cost efficiencies of commercial development and operational approaches and through access to the resources of our private capital markets.
And third, space-based science missions. NASA’s robotic spacecraft and earth orbit and throughout the solar system have revolutionized the fields of astrophysics, solar physics, planetary exploration, and earth science. During the last few decades, space missions to the planets have revealed their wonders and charted humankind’s path to the solar system.
Other NASA missions have observed the universe with unprecedented resolution, displaying its vastness and majesty and beginning the search for life elsewhere. Still other missions have monitored earth and provided us with essential information to be better stewards of our planet. To assure US leadership in space science and robotic exploration for the next decade and beyond, it will be critical for the Space Council to advocate for continued robust funding of these programs.
Beyond its major programs, NASA can also be a leader in developing the needed technologies to enable the use of a new generation of small satellites for scientific purposes. In conclusion, the years immediately ahead offer America the chance to lead the world in a new golden age of space achievement, if we are bold in our aspirations and resolute in our actions.
Under your leadership, Mr. Vice President, the National Space Council can orchestrate the combined creativity, energies, and skills of NASA, other space-related agencies, and the US private sector to benefit our country’s domestic economy, scientific and technological progress, and international standing. Thank you for this opportunity to present my views on this important topic. I’ll be happy to respond to your questions.
VP Pence: That’s great. Thank you, David Thompson. Thank you for those thoughtful comments. The chair will begin with a brief question. We — I was struck by your testimony this morning. Each of you — Marillyn, you spoke about the imperative of American action. Dennis, you spoke about the commitment to uninterrupted space that you cautioned about when America withdraws, and David, you spoke about the need to accelerate.
My question is, can you favor us with, how do you view America’s role in space today? Have we fallen behind, as we believe? Is that your judgment from the outside? And how quickly can we seize American leadership again in a broad range of areas in space? And maybe just briefly on that and then I’ll go to the rest of the panel. Marillyn, and then maybe to others.
Marillyn Hewson: Thank you, Mr. Vice President. I would say, first of all, that it is very important today that we — that it is an imperative. In my view, national security, economic growth, as well as being able to help with education and understanding of our world, is imperative around space. It has been for many, many years. It’s even more so today.
To a question about being behind, I think as you hear from the National Security Panel, you’ll hear more insight to this, but I do think that we have to be vigilant on that front, as you’ve outlined in your remarks. From an economic security standpoint and from an economic growth standpoint, space is an inspirational area for us as a nation. Not just because it’s a new frontier, but because it makes our lives better.
We can look at so many technologies that we have gained through our exploration of space, and I think getting our young people, the next generation, as well as American’s today, focused on that, will bring more jobs, will bring more inspiration, and will help us to continue to lead as a nation.
VP Pence: Great. So it’s an imperative. But, Dennis, how quickly do we get back in the poll position in every area of space exploration, in your mind? How quickly can we get there?
Dennis Muilenburg: Sir, I think we can get there quickly if we have focus and commitment and resourcing, and I share the sense of urgency here. We see countries around the world investing in space to gain competitive advantage. We know that investing in space is important from a national security and economic standpoint.
We have the resources available. We have the talent available. We have the right programs in place now. It is important that we have long-term stability on funding, a clear commitment, and clear, actionable objectives. And with that, I think we can rally the whole country. There is nothing more inspiring than the country’s space program, in terms of rallying today’s industrial government partnerships and building the next generation of talent.
So I think we can do it quickly and I think it’s measured in a matter of a handful of years, and we can make clear progress right out of the gates.
VP Pence: David, you were talking about the ability to do cislunar space, multiple missions within the next five years. Do you share the belief how quickly we can get back in the forefront?
David Thompson: Yes, sir, Mr. Vice President. I do. I think NASA has done a fantastic job of building the basic infrastructure that will allow us, within a period of five years or less, to return American astronauts to the vicinity of the moon. And shortly thereafter, if we so choose, to return both astronauts and their robotic helpers to the surface of the moon. So I believe this is feasible within a period of time of approximately five years.
VP Pence: Right. Well, thank you all. With that, Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson.
Rex Tillerson: Well, thank all of you for being with us this morning, and I think an important point that has been made, in terms of the real value delivery of undertaking a robust and vigorous deep space exploration program you test on is the information that it provides to so many young boys, young girls, young men and women, to enter fields of science, technology, engineering and math study, and then take that onto their careers.
That was the case for me. Neil Armstrong’s landing on the moon inspired me to want to go into a lifelong career of engineering. And so it is a broad impact, not just for our space program, but it is how we create the ability of our nation to have a very robust, innovative spirit, and which is so fundamental to the broader economic competitiveness of the US.
And so I really share strongly the views that this is going to deliver enormous value far beyond just our accomplishments in deep space exploration. And with that, I had a couple of questions. One, as we think about deep space exploration, and we have — in our space programs in the past, we’ve had very successful international consortium, cooperation, partnerships.
But as we think about deep space exploration, what’s the proper — in your view, what is the proper architecture around an international effort to put humans into deep space exploration programs? Are there areas that we should reserve to ourselves? Are there areas that really lend themselves to international consortium?
And then as you think about that, what — are there particular countries, in your experience, that we should be developing this relationship and this architecture with in particular? Where should we be focusing?
Dennis Muilenburg: Mr. Secretary, if I could take a first cut at that. I think a good model is the work we’ve done together on the International Space Station over the last many years. That has been a very successful endeavor for our country, with a number of industrial partnerships and partnerships with other countries.
The key to success, however, is American leadership. So collaboration works. It can make sense, but it requires American leadership and America architecting the system. I think there are similar opportunities for deep space exploration, but again, I think America needs to lead with the technology, lead with the architecture, lead in terms of building an infrastructure that will allow international collaboration.
There are certain elements of technology and innovation, too, that I think are appropriate for the United States to keep for itself, and that has to be part of architecting such a program. But I think the opportunity to bring in additional resources, talents, with many of our global partners, our allies, finding intersections between national security and economic security, are very viable, and those are the places where I would look for partnerships.
Marillyn Hewson: I’m going to add on the deep space exploration side. Orion is a good example of that. Today, we have the European Space Agency that is building the service module for that. This is going to be — you know, it’s a proven technology. It’s a capsule that we are moving forward with, with NASA, and we’re very pleased with where it is in its progress.
So it’s working today. I think where we also would look is other countries as involved with the infrastructure that we put in place in space. But I would also think an important area that we should keep in front of us, as a government, is that in space, we need to have an international framework, regulatory framework, because there are over 70 countries that are — that have missions in space today, a variety of different things that they’re doing.
And so the US should lead on helping to get in place that regulatory framework that’s so important for those international partnerships and for just operating in that domain.
David Thompson: Mr. Secretary, I would agree. I think the discussions have started at a preliminary level between NASA and the European Space Agency and I would recommend that the Space Council encourage those discussions. I think NASA and ESA have been good partners on a variety of human and robotic space initiatives in the past and could form the core international coalition to see humans move into deep space in the near term.
VP Pence: Thank you, Mr. Secretary. If you have no other questions, I’ll take the moment to remind you that Neil Armstrong was a Purdue University engineer. That would be Purdue University in Indiana. I appreciate very thoughtful comments and I appreciate the secretary’s presence here today and his engagement on this council. Acting NASA administrator, Robert Lightfoot, is recognized.
Robert Lightfoot: All right. Thank you, Vice President. I think the question I would have — I’m going to kind of direct it to David but I’ll let the other two jump in if you get a chance. Clearly, we’ve advanced a lot since the last time we went to the moon, and there’s a lot of advancements that are out there and I’d be very interested in your thoughts on the role of robotics or other technologies as we look at going into lunar operations.
Specifically for you, David, you guys are working a lot in satellite servicing and your Cygnus cargo vehicle that you’re flying International Space Station today, you’re looking at autonomous operations there. How do you see that as an enabler, as we move forward into this area? Or other technologies that you want to speak on that.
David Thompson: Thank you very much, Robert. I see the near future activities in the vicinity of the moon differing in several important respects from our last human flights to the moon almost 45 years ago. First, I believe these upcoming missions will ultimately be of longer duration. The longest period of time that humans have ever been in the vicinity of the moon is less than five days. And as we go back, I think we will quickly amass the experience of weeks or months of operations in lunar orbit and on the surface of the moon, with human tended platforms and reusable systems that can be left behind to be serviced by many subsequent crews.
With respect to robotics and other autonomous systems, there have been enormous advances, in some cases spearheaded by NASA. In other cases, by the private sector or the military. In these technologies over the intervening of four decades, NASA has done quite a bit of this on its own, with its robotic emissaries, to explore the solar system. And now, in low orbit, private companies are also deploying robotic systems of quite an advanced nature.
So I would envision human activities on the moon and near the moon being substantially enabled, made more productive and made much safer due to the presence of robotics and other autonomous systems that could operate together with our men and women that would be there representing our country. Thank you.
Dennis Muilenburg: Robert, if I could just add a complementary point to David’s. We see the opportunity for robotics in space and collaboration between humans and robots as an important technology step. It does come in the form of vehicles, another example being the X-37B, the Phantom Express rapid launch capabilities. But we also see a future with automation and robotics in space in areas like space manufacturing, and we see the opportunity for zero gravity, low gravity manufacturing as being a viable commercial practice in space at some point. That could either be in low Earth orbit or lunar, and as we’re doing on earth with combinations of humans and robots working in our factories, robotic application to space manufacturing, I think, is another leading-edge technology area. It’s an important place for America to lead.
VP Pence: Great. Thank you. Anyone else have a comment in response? In addition? Great. Good. Last question on this panel will go to the Deputy of Secretary of Defense, Paul Shanahan. Paul?
Paul Shanahan: Yeah. Hey, good afternoon, or I guess good morning. You know, one of the themes that each of you mentioned in your remarks was stable, consistent funding. And, you know, the question is, as you look across the three different domains — civil, commercial, military — what’s the synergy we should try to exploit? How do you think about really leveraging some of those common missions or domains?
Dennis Muilenburg: Yeah. Well, first of all, I think your point of matching up and creating synergy across commercial and defense sectors is very important. It’s important to the talent base, it’s important to the techniques and processes, and frankly, that combination can help create some stability in funding and programmatic profiles.
I think it’s also important that from a policy standpoint, if we look at the national budget — not only the defense budget, but all of the elements that fuel innovation — year-to-year stability and alternatives to the budget cap approach that we have in place today, sequestration, we need an alternative. That’s good for the US government. It’s good for the economy. It’s good for industry so we can do long-term planning together.
Without that long-term view and long-term stability and funding, it’s difficult to build a supply chain. It’s difficult to make the investments that create long-term space infrastructure. I think that’s one of the most important things we can do as a country.
Marillyn Hewson: I would add to that, to your point, there is complementary — when you take the national security activities that we do, they do flow over into commercial opportunities and civil opportunities as well. So the money that we’re spending, the investments that we’re making as a nation on national security or on our civil space programs, it’s complementary across, and we can get the full bang for the buck.
But to Dennis’s point, we have been faced with a very challenging budget environment, in the space arena as well as in other areas of our government. And so that is a message to you, as the Space Council, that we really do need to make sure that we have stable funding, that we are — that we have aspirational programs that we’re investing in so that we can continue to be a leader in space.
VP Pence: Very good. David, anything? Thank you. Well, if there’s no other questions from the panel, we’ll allow this very distinguished panel to step away, but I hope everyone in attendance will join me in thanking Marillyn Hewson, David Muilenburg and David Thompson for just outstanding presentations. Thank you very much.
As our next panel begins to make their way, I would call everyone on the Space Council’s attention to your packets today. There’s a recommendation to the president for a new policy on deep space, human exploration. It meets the presidents vision for America to lead in space again. The recommendation is the National Space Council policy be amended as is transcribed there, that we shall lead in innovative and sustainable program of exploration with commercial and international partners, to enable human expansion across the solar system to bring new knowledge and opportunities.
Beginning with missions beyond low Earth orbit, the United States will lead and return humans to the moon for long-term exploration followed by human missions to Mars and other destinations. Unless anyone on the council has an objection, I would direct the executive secretary of the council to prepare a decision memo to the president with this recommendation for the council. Hearing none, so moved. With that — Secretary Ross, do you have a comment?
Wilbur Ross: No, sir. I agree with it.
VP Pence: Good. Thank you. Thank you. Saw your light on there, Wilbur. I’m always ready to recognize you. With that, let me turn to the acting administrator, Robert Lightfoot. You’ve got a big job ahead of you. The council’s going to need the whole team at NASA to work with the Office of Management and Budget to provide the president with the recommended plan to fulfil that policy.
We’ll need you and your team at NASA, present and future, to be prepared to do just that, and it certainly reinforces what we heard today about the importance of urgency, but also a sustainable commitment of the United States to consistent presence in space. So, with that, welcome your comments.
Robert Lightfoot: Yeah, thank you, Mr. Vice President. I think, as we sit here today, Mark Vande Hei and Randy Bresnik are doing a spacewalk at the International Space Station, so they’re outside the station above us — 200-some odd miles above us today. And I am confident and excited about the opportunity to bring a plan back to the president, that allows future astronauts like that to do the same kind of work further and further into space.
So it’s an exciting time for us, a good opportunity for us to do this and I look forward to working with the council, OMB, as we go forward. So we’re ready to do it.
VP Pence: Great. Thanks, Robert. Thanks for your leadership as our acting administrator at NASA, and thank you all. We’re going to begin to turn our attention to the next panel. This panel is focused on the entrepreneurial side of space, which commonly called commercial space. Before I do that, I did want to recognize a couple of folks who are in the audience today, as we talk about a sustainable commitment to space.
I don’t want to fail to recognize members of Congress who are present with us today. We’re grateful for their presence. Congressman Dana Rohrabacher, Congressman Steve Palazzo, and Congressman Jim Bridenstine is with us today. Would you all join me in welcoming their presence today? Thank you.
Also, let me point a personal privilege, two people that have been great champions of American leadership in space throughout their long and storied careers. The former chairman of the House Science Committee, Bob Walker, is here, and the former Speaker of the House, Newt Gingrich, is with us today. Thank you both for being with us.
That as our next panel steps to the stage. The panels before us represent some new and exciting companies that are pushing the bounds of what we thought was possible, even shaking things up a little bit in aerospace markets globally, to say the least. Our first panelist will be Ms. Gwynne Shotwell, the president of SpaceX. Our second panelist will be Mr. Bob Smith, the CEO of Blue Origin. Our final panelist will be Fatih Ozmen, CEO of Sierra Nevada Corporation. Before we recognize Ms. Shotwell, would you join me in welcoming this panel back to the National Space Council? Thank you all. Ms. Shotwell, you’re recognized.
Gwynne Shotwell: A technologist here. Mr. Vice President and distinguished members of the council, I’m honored to be here today in this extraordinary venue, to represent more than 6,000 men and women of SpaceX, who work tirelessly each day to provide NASA, the Department of Defense, and our commercial customers with critical launches to space.
We are driven by a deep sense of mission to revolutionize space technologies and to help this nation, the world — to help this nation and the world become a truly space-faring civilization. Now is the time for swift and bold action; a permanent presence on the moon and American boots on the surface of Mars are not impossible and they are not long-term goals.
We can achieve rapid progress if we undertake concerted efforts that optimize America’s greatest strengths; ingenuity, innovation, and entrepreneurialism. America is out-innovating the rest of the world in space launch. So far this year, SpaceX has successfully conducted 13 launches, more than any other nation, and we have also repeatedly demonstrated the ability to refly previously flown rockets for commercial customers. We have another one of those missions upcoming in a week.
This is a market, commercial space launch, that the United States used to dominate in the ’90s. We lost it in the 2000s and we are bringing that back to the United States, along with the thousands of jobs that follow it. SpaceX is bringing this critical market back and we are pleased to be doing so.
Also, as recently announced by my boss, Mr. Elon Musk, the CEO of SpaceX, we also plan to move forward rapidly with a program, a commercial program, for an American rocket and a spaceship capable of carrying large numbers of humans to Mars, as well as the surface of the moon.
Though I sit on the commercial space panel today, and as I’ve mentioned, we are a key player both in the civil and the national security space markets. Early in this year, we carried the National Reconnaissance Office L-76 mission to orbit. Last month, we successfully launched the Air Force’s X-37B into orbit. Next year, we will have the profound honor of carrying US astronauts into space on an American rocket for the first time since 2011.
New rockets, spacecraft, and plans for space commerce abound. In short, there is a renaissance underway right now in space. Against this background, we urge the council to undertake a unified effort across the federal space enterprise. You have the opportunity to help accelerate low Earth orbit and deep space efforts by employing public-private partnerships to yield speedy and efficient results and by implementing meaningful regulatory reforms.
Overall, the council can work to alter and improve procurement agility and flexibility so that the government can behave more like a commercial buyer, where applicable. If we want to achieve rapid progress in space, the US government must remove bureaucratic practices that run counter to innovation and speed.
We urge the council to look back to the NASA Commercial Orbital Transportation Services Program, or COT, for important lessons learned about the effectiveness of public-private partnerships and how to carry them out. The firm, fixed price, pay for performance competitive principles, embodied in the COT’s programs, allowed NASA to rapidly yield two new spacecraft and two new rockets capable of carrying cargo to the International Space Station.
These lessons should be applied to America’s space program beyond low Earth orbit, including a new competitive public-private partnership modeled on the COT’s approach for deep space exploration. This would augment budgets with private capital, complement existing technologies that are being pursued, and accelerate technologies for new destinations in space, including deep space communications networks and also landers on the moon and Mars.
The council can also establish directives that achieve rapid government adoption of new commercial capabilities like reusable launch vehicles. Rapid and complete reusability is the next great advancement for space flight and will fundamentally alter the economics and access to space.
Finally, the council could commit to reforming, modernizing, and streamlining federal regulations governing space launch. Regulations written decades ago must be updated to keep pace with the new technologies and the high cadence of launch from the United States if we want a strong space launch industry here at home. Mr. Vice President and members of the council, thank you so much for this invitation and I look forward to your questions.
VP Pence: Thank you very much, Gwynne. Great comments. We appreciate it and look forward to the dialogue that’ll follow. Bob Smith is CEO of Blue Origin and is recognized and welcome to the National Space Council.
Bob Smith: Thank you, Mr. Vice President, members of the National Space Council. Thank you for the opportunity to speak before you today. At Blue Origin, our vision is to enable a future where millions of people are living and working in space. This vision was set forth by our founder, Jeff Bezos, who, as a five-year-old, watched Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin walk on the moon.
This event sparked his lifelong passion for space. This passion is what all of us at Blue Origin think about each and every day. I’m a child of the Apollo era, saw with my own eyes the immense progress we made then, to accomplish things that were almost unthinkable at the time.
I am proud now to be part of leading this organization forward and representing the commercial space industry’s desire to work with the government to see progress like this once again in my lifetime. The traditional government-driven space enterprise gave the US leadership in space over the past 60 years, through the Apollo program, through the Space Shuttle program, the International Space Station, and our national security capabilities, which are unrivaled by any other country.
However, we believe the future of the United State’s leadership in space will build on these civil and national security accomplishments, and they will continue by driving economic activity, commercial innovation, and human space flight resulting in an economic expansion into space on the way to millions of people living and working in space.
The first step in making this happen is lowering the cost of access to space by building operationally reusable launch systems. Blue Origin is working on this today, designing reusability in from the beginning on all of our programs, that will take people and payloads to the earth orbit, the moon, and beyond.
We are investing significant private capital in our programs and are making great progress towards increasing access to space. Our New Shepard vehicle will take scientific payloads and people into space, where they will experience weightlessness and witness incredible views. New Shepard is named after the first American to go to space, Alan Shepard, and launches from our facility in west Texas.
The next launch of New Shepard will be later this year. The advances in reusability that we have developed with New Shepard are making their way into New Glenn, our orbital rocket that will launch from historic launch complex 36 at Cape Canaveral, taking people and payloads to low Earth orbit and beyond. New Glenn is named after the first American to orbit the earth, Senator John Glenn. Our massive factory at the cape, where we build New Glenn, is on track to be completed by the end of the year.
We’ve also invested in building our own reusable engines to power our launch vehicles and to benefit the great launch industry. Our BE-3 engine, which launches New Shepard to space, is an amazing advancement in engine technology and has demonstrated remarkable [unintelligible] and robustness of design.
We will soon begin testing our BE-4 engine, which will take New Glenn to space, and is being developed in partnership with United Launch Alliance, for the next generation vehicle, Vulcan, and will end America’s dependence on Russian engines. This has been accomplished with virtually all private money.
The opportunity before you is to further US leadership in space by ensuring that the United States drives the coming economic expansion in space. This can only be done through public-private partnerships. For example, our New Glenn launch vehicle will be more capable than existing launch vehicles flying today and can be used not only for human space flight and other commercial missions, but also for civil and national security payloads. Therefore, we are in early discussions with the National Security Community and NASA about how to certify New Glenn for their use.
We also believe strongly that it is time for America to return to the moon. The moon is a key step on the path to long-term exploration of the solar system, and we have proposed the Blue Moon lunar lander concept as a low-cost cargo delivery system to enable NASA and commercial activities on the moon. Blue Moon can be done within the next five years, and we are willing to invest alongside NASA to make this happen.
Such public-private partnerships allow the country to meet big objectives rapidly, while also promoting more economic development and US strategic leadership in space. Thank you for your time and I’m happy to answer your questions.
VP Pence: Thank you, Bob. Thank you for those thoughtful comments. I look forward to our dialogue with the panel. Mr. Fatih Ozmen, of Sierra Nevada Corporation, is recognized. Thank you for being here.
Fatih Ozmen: Good morning. I’d like to echo my colleagues in thanking the vice president and the council for the opportunity to address you today. Now is the time for bold action. I am Fatih Ozmen, CEO of Sierra Nevada Corporation. My wife, Eren Ozmen, my real boss who is also here, sitting, is SNC’s president and we are the sole owners.
SNC is a unique company. We bring the best of both worlds, a reliable government contractor, the challenges of status quo with an entrepreneurial culture. Eren and I are blessed to live the most amazing American dream. We came to Nevada from Turkey as graduate students in 1980s and have been proud US citizens for almost 30 years.
We have established an innovative business model. We invest our own capital and focus on agility, speed, and affordability. With that approach, SNC has grown from 20 employees into a multibillion dollar business with over 3,000 people with facilities in 20 states. In addition to SNC’s core national security business, we have 25 years of experience and innovation in space, from satellites to rocket engines and more.
Our products have been part of 450 successful missions to space. Our Dream Chaser is the next generation’s space shuttle technology. This multi-mission spacecraft has been selected by NASA to service the International Space Station. Dream Chaser is the only commercial low Earth orbit reusable lifting body vehicle.
It can launch from many rockets. It can land on many commercial airports. It can do many missions, including the international ones, like the one planned with the United Nations, giving 84-member countries affordable access to space. The council is critical to driving a unified strategy, policy and vision to be in space.
I would encourage greater cooperation among the three recognized space communities, civil, commercial, and national security, to leverage their combined resources. For commercial space, we need to create an environment that promote investment, manages risk, and creates opportunity. Specifically, I’ll ask the council to address the three following points.
First, infrastructure. Commercial space is booming. The US should lead the effort and invest into building essential infrastructure, the highways in space for a strong space economy. The right policies and regulations can provide oversight and accelerate capital to new initiatives creating jobs and markets with huge returns, including new scientific discoveries.
Second, commercialization. The global commercial space market is valued at over $335 billion a year. The US has a unique opportunity to establish a roadmap, based on an open architecture framework, that fosters competition and affordability. This will provide an integrated capability that can leverage and service civil, commercial, and national security, and international partners and consortiums.
Incentives are critical, as well, to stimulate the space economy and ensure US global leadership. For example, like a free trade zone, a space economic zone could be created at the International Space Station and aboard US-flagged space vehicles.
Third and final, continuation of the International Space Station. The US should make the decision now to continue operating the ISS through the end of the next decade. This was a hard lesson learned when we retired the space shuttle. The ISS is considered to be a stepping stone for exploration and we need to preserve it to open new doors into space and go to deep space.
In closing, let me address the future. This administration is focused on space. This will light a fire in our national imagination and inspire our children. After all, space is multigenerational and a bridge to bring cultures and worlds together. For Eren and me, SNC — for Eren and me, our own mission statement reflects this focus. Dream, innovate, inspire, and empower the next generation to transform humanity through technology and imagination.
I want to thank President Trump and Vice President Pence for reinstituting the National Space Council and reigniting the dream. We need this kind of bold action and we stand ready to help you bring speed and agility to space. Thank you again and I look forward to your questions.
VP Pence: Well, thank you all. Thank you all for your words. More importantly, thank you for your inspiring example of American ingenuity and creativity. I know we’re all moved and millions of Americans follow, with great interest, these companies and all that you’ve done, and we’re honored to have you here.
Let me — the chair will ask a very quick question. Gwynne, you talked about regulatory reform. Fatih, you talked about the kind of regulation that would create infrastructure in space, a space highway. Bob, you reflected on the same, making sure that the US drives economic expansion in space.
Can anyone on the panel speak briefly to what we might focus on, with regard to OMB, commerce, transportation, in the area of regulatory reform? And I believe the testimony was that we have not updated regulations with regard to space since the days of Apollo. And Gwynne, since you raised the issue, can each of you speak to that and the I’ll go to the Secretary of Transportation?
Gwynne Shotwell: We actually have a detailed white paper with some recommended approaches, but just to give a, kind of a very top-level, we are working well with the FAA to get our launches licensed. However, I think it requires heroics when you make any changes to those launch license. When you have to change a launch pad from 40 to 39A or back to 40, you have to basically apply for a new license.
So if we could look at the CFR right now and really streamline the licensing process to allow for a much more rapid cadence of launch, as we’re starting to see this year, and that will only continue to grow. So we need to streamline the process. We need to shorten the timelines. It takes six months. Then you reapply 90 days, 30 days, and then 15 days, to file a flight plan.
I think if the airline industry had to follow such regulations, maybe they’d change faster. But those kinds of things. The regulations are there, but they definitely need to be streamlined in order to facilitate the very rapid cadence of launch.
VP Pence: Very good. Bob?
Bob Smith: Having a little technical problem.
Gwynne Shotwell: Yeah.
Bob Smith: There we go. Sorry about that. So the fundamental —
VP Pence: I had the same problem.
Bob Smith: Did you? All right. Thank you. Well, I would just echo what Gwynne largely said, but put a finer point on it. It’s really comes down to reusability. That is the difference. When you have expendable launch capability, there are existing frameworks by which to handle that.
But once you get into reusability, now you’re into a different regulatory regime, and so we actually now have duplicative overlap between the United States Air Force and what we ask to see from the FAA. So this is a good opportunity for actually change that regulatory environment, because reusability will be the thing that actually changes the economics of getting to space and having millions of people working there.
Fatih Ozmen: In terms of your question for infrastructure, I think I was excited when I heard about the trillion-dollar infrastructure investment that was promised. Just a fraction of that could be invested in space, as well as the earth. I mean, it build roads, bridges, and highways. But you can envision to have a toll-free road.
My way in space, we allow other people, many commercial companies creating jobs, going out there, giving them access, lower the cost of access, which our colleagues are doing a great job in terms of inexpensive rockets. But additional infrastructure, investment, if it is made, then eventually you can charge a toll and it will be self-sustaining.
So I think there’s a lot of job creation potential here, if we lean forward and lead. And reusability would be key to lower the access and space shuttle is the best example sitting here, like our Dream Chaser, has been used over and over, and I think that’s eventually going to be like airplanes, airlines carrying people back and forth.
VP Pence: Well, thank you for that. Secretary of Transportation, Elaine Chao.
Elaine Chao: Hey, Gwynne. Great to see you. Thank you Bob and Fatih for your remarks, as well. Gwynne, it was so interesting to visit your facilities out in Los Angeles. It was really like a visit to the future. You know, one of the most interesting potential applications of commercial space is this idea of flying passengers, like, to any city on earth in 30 minutes.
That sounds like something, you know, that would completely obviously revolutionize long distance transportation. So can you share with us a little bit as to what the vision is and how this new future would look?
Gwynne Shotwell: Thank you, Madame Secretary. Last week, Elon announced, or basically gave an update on the Big Falcon Rocket program, Big Falcon rocket and Big Falcon spaceship. That program was meant to complement the existing launch vehicle suite that we have, which is Falcon Nine, which is flying regularly now, Falcon Heavy which we’ll start flying very shortly.
And then the BFR system complements it and gets us through the full suite of national security space launch. It also enables much larger passenger carrying vehicles. The Dragon spacecraft, which we will fly shortly for crew, can carry up to seven people. For NASA, we’re flying four people.
BFR is planned to fly hundreds of people, both to low Earth orbit. Our ultimate destination is Mars, but that system is being designed also to do kind of earth hops. And those are some of the first tests that you’ll actually see with the Falcon spaceship.
VP Pence: Others on the panel to the overall theme.
Fatih Ozmen: Well, yeah, the — actually, a contract from far east country, in terms of transporting from Indonesia to Puerto Rico. We did a study, several million dollars, and that’s a great possibility. It was taking about 45 minutes, a very short time. It’s expensive right now, but I think if you look into the future, it’ll be affordable.
VP Pence: Thank you, Madame Secretary. Anything else? We’re good. Let me go to the Secretary of Commerce, Wilbur Ross.
Elaine Chao: You may need to turn yours off.
Wilbur Ross: I’m sorry.
Elaine Chao: Turn yours off.
Wilbur Ross: Through NOAA, operates — commerce, through NOAA, operates 16 satellites, 11 for civil use, mostly weather and earth mapping, and 5 for the Air Force. And we’ve had a lot of proud partnerships with other countries and with some private sector. And I’ve been intrigued that in low gravity and no gravity environments, materials take on different properties from what they have here on earth.
And I wonder, is that an area that you think is ripe for commercialization? Or are there other segments of space that are more ripe so that we really can have public-private partnerships in meaningful dollars? Because, so far, the monies we’ve gotten really haven’t been big dollars in the partnerships.
Fatih Ozmen: Can I answer that? That’s a very exciting area, because we have so many requests as part of our commercialization of the Dream Chaser program outside of NASA, from pharmaceutical companies and building new materials in space, growing crystals that are not possible under earth conditions, but microgravity allows you to do that.
So there are so many possible industrial potential, including 3D printing in space that can allow you to do other things that you couldn’t do industrially on earth. So it is a very exciting area that I believe is going to be a big economic stimulus eventually.
Bob Smith: I would just add that, if you look broadly within what the commercial activities are going to be, a continuation of what we’re doing today is very much what’s going to happen in the near term. So we’re going to have observation satellites and communication satellite. That’s obviously going to be a key commercial customer.
But the next one for Blue Origin is going to be space tourism. So within the next 18 months, we’re going to be launching humans into space. And this won’t be astronauts, people that would have been trained and specialized within an area, but these are going to be everyday citizens. So that by itself is going to open up new ways of actually thinking about commerce into space, which is going to be very exciting.
Beyond that, as we reduce the overall cost of getting to space, many of those things come to play, such as space power, manufacturing in space, and using a lot of, and exploiting a lot of the resources that are actually in space today. So I think once we get through those first three levels, then we’re going to be able to actually go a little bit further and faster, in terms of actually getting higher economic activity in that one.
Gwynne Shotwell: I do believe strongly that once you put people, massive amounts of people in low Earth orbit and beyond, the space enterprise will proliferate in ways that we can’t even imagine right now.
VP Pence: Very well said. Thank you, Mr. Secretary. If you have nothing else.
Wilbur Ross: No, that was — just been shut off again. That was my big set of questions. The other one, though, was when we have international partnerships, how do you modulate it so that we make sure we keep control and we keep our leadership position, as opposed to deluding it with these third parties?
Gwynne Shotwell: Secretary Tillerson has a very robust set of rules called ITAR, which prevent the proliferation of technology to countries outside of the United States.
Wilbur Ross: No, no, I didn’t mean the export of technology. We have BIS so I’m well aware of the limits on that. I was talking about if somebody pays very small rent to use a space on a space station then develops a product, how do we get some benefit out of it, rather than it being the third party or the international partner?
Fatih Ozmen: Well, I can try to answer that, because we are right now in the process of working with United Nations, as I referred earlier. They signed an agreement with us to the mission in 2021, with 84 countries who cannot afford access to space. There are a lot of universities and experimentation lined up to be included in that mission.
Everybody pays a small part to be part of that. But we are managing the architecture. We are managing who can get on there, what’s going to be the outcome, IT management rights. And those are evolving, but we have a tangible example right now, right around the corner, for that mission. That’s going to be very interesting to prove that, but I am excited, because it’s the US leadership. It’s our airplane, American space plane, taking these nations and experiments in space.
So we will have more say on this than if you let somebody else do, like Chinese set up a space station, free access, and everybody goes there and we have no control. So.
Wilbur Ross: Thank you.
VP Pence: Thank you, Mr. Secretary. Recognize the Secretary of State and then a wrap-up question from the director of OMB before we move onto our final panel. And I will say, Gwynne, that the Secretary of State would greatly welcome the enhanced transportation.
Rex Tillerson: Yes, I would.
VP Pence: Shortened travel time.
Rex Tillerson: 30 minutes to destinations around the world would be great.
VP Pence: Mr. Secretary, you’re recognized.
Rex Tillerson: I’m all in. Kind of picking up on several comments around regulatory obstacles, but I want to go extend that a bit to international space law. And in terms of international space law and how it — where it stands today, how it develops to accommodate how rapidly the use of space is changing from a commercial perspective and whether you are encountering obstacles from other countries in this space, in this area of the development of international space law, and what — how do we need to be thinking about that, from our standpoint of diplomacy, foreign policy?
Because, obviously, we want to create the conditions that allow our US commercial entities to compete and to thrive, maintain that leadership position, regain that leadership position. So kind of pushing this regulatory environment out into now, the space environment, are there areas of concern you can identify or obstacles you’re encountering that would be helpful for us to understand? Thank you.
Gwynne Shotwell: I believe, with the movement to go beyond earth orbit, the FAA is undertaking or looking at ways of regulating that activity. And I wouldn’t say that we’ve had any issues yet, but know that they’re — that these things are coming and that we will have to have a regulatory regime that does recover private missions to the moon, private missions to Mars, as well.
So my guess is we are kind of just starting that journey and we will be working, hopefully, very closely to make sure that the regulatory regime is there for us to do work, our good work, in a very rapid manner.
Bob Smith: I would just add that a regular review of what the export regime is between Department of Commerce and Department of State is always a good thing to go do. Because tend to get locked in for long periods of time. As technology advances, getting that update on a regular basis, I think, is very valuable. Allows us to actually understand where that sharp line is, because at Blue, we don’t tell everyone to take one big step away from that red line. But we want to make sure that we actually are doing whatever we can do to actually spur commerce.
Second thing to your question is really around the Outer Space Treaty. The Outer Space Treaty is, I think, a good framework that we have today. I think it supports what we want to go do in the future. I think there are details that have to be worked out on that, but that’s a discussion that I think we can go on as we get closer to some of those actually becoming an impediment.
Fatih Ozmen: I would just add to that one quick point. That it goes back to our leadership, US leadership. I think right now, for instance, my company has 10 international agreements, with ESA [unintelligible] everybody else, to do this, and a lot of them want to come here, and we want them come to the United States to create jobs.
So to allow them to be able to establish here and work jointly together to go to outer space, and I will say that we will leverage these agreements with ESA and Canadian Space Agency and [unintelligible] and other ones, to be able to keep our leadership. And other countries will have to follow. So I think there is room for improvement there.
VP Pence: Thank you, Mr. Secretary. And Director of Office of Management and Budget, Mick Mulvaney.
Mick Mulvaney: Real briefly, and I want to stay in the regulatory environment here for a second. What you folks may not be aware of is that the vice president presided over a deregulatory day just this week, so you’ve sort of come to the right group, and I’m fascinated by some of the stories already about how regs get in your way.
I would encourage you — maybe this is more of a recommendation than a question, because a lot of the good questions have been asked, is that if you folks could please — the Office of Management and Budget, no one understands us, which we kind of like. One of the things we have within OMB is the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs. So we touch just about every reg or every dereg effort within the government. We’re also involved in legislating regulatory change or legislative change.
So if you folks could be specifically identifying regs that are impeding innovation and impeding investment, specifically identifying changes in law, keeping in mind there are some things that we can do as an administration without going to Congress, but there are some things that we absolutely can and should go to Congress to help get some assistance with.
So if you could identify for us specific examples, as you’ve done today, on the difficulties of getting launch permission, difficulty of getting flight plans filed, difficulty of duplication between various federal agencies — by the way, that’s something we hear from a lot of different folks who work with the government. We are actually in a position to help you in a fairly short order, as far as government service goes.
So thank you for doing this today. I don’t have a question, Mr. President, but I would encourage them to get the Office of Management and Budget anything they can on where they need help on dereg.
VP Pence: Well, thank you, Director, and we’ll reiterate the director’s request, that you forward that information. With that, before we dismiss the panel, let me request Secretary Chao, Secretary Ross, as well as Director Mulvaney, let’s — we think, based on this panel and some of the reflections, it is a time for a full review of our regulatory framework for commercial space enterprise.
So would each of you work with the executive secretary of the council to pull together a plan to present to the president? The objective would be to remove barriers, American innovation by streamlining regulations reducing bureaucratic hurdles, space companies. Elaine, Wilbur?
Elaine Chao: Yes, of course.
VP Pence: Do you recognize?
Elaine Chao: Look forward to working with —
Mick Mulvaney: We’ve actually already asked since we’ve been sitting here for the SpaceX white paper on the dereg, so —
VP Pence: Good.
Mick Mulvaney: It’s already started.
VP Pence: Wilbur, you’ll get your team working on that. I think our objective is let’s have something to review for our next council meeting.
Wilbur Ross: I don’t know about you Mr. [unintelligible] giving me homework assignments.
VP Pence: Yeah. Well, think urgency. So, I think we’re going to — I think if we put a 45-day window on that, I think it would meet the chair’s expectation and the president’s expectation, so thank you very much. So thank you Mr. Secretary, and would everyone join me in thanking this panel for their outstanding presentation? Great job.
Our final panel of the day will focus on the national security aspects of the space enterprise. Our first panelist will be Dr. Michael Griffin, former NASA administrator and former deputy director for Technology and Strategic Defense Initiative Office. Our second panelist is Admiral James Ellis, a distinguished American, as well, former head of the Strategic Command and now a fellow at the Hoover Institution. Our final panelist is Ms. Pamela Melroy, a former shuttle commander and deputy director of the Tactical Technologies Office at DARPA. Would everyone join me in welcoming this extraordinary panel to the National Space Council today? Dr. Griffin, you’re recognized for opening remarks and welcome back to the National Space Council.
Michael Griffin: Mr. Vice President, members of the National Space Council, Executive Secretary Pace, thank you for inviting me to speak at the meeting and to air my views in regard to national security space priority and concerns. There are many such concerns. It is past time that we begin to address them, with both policy and budget.
In my remarks today, I will address only a few that I consider to be of the highest priority. First, we need persistent, timely, global land, sea, air, and space domain awareness. We lead the world, still, in our ability to provide exquisite intelligence when our focus must be on very specific targets. But, increasingly, what is needed is less exquisite, but more timely, comprehensive, and persistent domain awareness.
This can only be done from space. Also, it must be recognized that space itself is a neglected domain. To be both blunt and clear, the United States must know what is being launched, from where it originates, to where it is going, what are its characteristics, what are its likely purposes, everywhere, all the time, to a level of accuracy sufficient for targeting and fire control, should that be required.
Second, our adversaries well understand that in today’s world, our space assets are critical to the way in which we fight and win wars. The technological advantage that they confer is by itself a deterrent to many adversarial actions. Bad actors can be dissuaded if they know that they are unlikely to prevail, thus our space infrastructure has been, is being, and will continue to be targeted by those who seek to alter the global order while blunting our opposition to that.
Our adversaries can already, and are increasing their ability to project their power into space. While we must develop defenses against such actions, defense by itself will always be insufficient. Defense must succeed every time. The adversary must succeed only once.
Accordingly, we must develop our own capabilities to project power in space. We must be able to hold adversary space capabilities at risk even as they seek to do so to ours. Third, these new capabilities are dependent on our ability to launch them in a reliable, timely, routine and cost-effective faction. Attributes would hardly describe the present state of affairs in the space launch industry.
It is past time for the National Security Space Launch Community to take control of its requirements and capabilities, and yes, commercial providers can offer some useful capability, but at bottom, national security space launch bears the same relationship to commercial launch that military aircraft do to the air transport industry. They share an industrial base but they do not share an operational infrastructure.
I have been a champion for commercial space launch throughout my career. Parenthetically, I am the first government official ever to buy a commercial space launch on purely arms-length commercial terms, but always — have always done so in the context of a carefully formulated risk calculus. If you agree with me that space launch is, like submarines and aircraft carriers, a strategic asset for our nation, then we must also agree to treat it as such.
Allow me to close by noting that the concerns I have addressed by no means constitute an exhaustive list. They are merely those that I consider to be of the very highest priority, but in citing them, or any other specific issues, we must not lose focus on what should be the overriding goal of national space policy.
The United States has had a leading role in world affairs, and together with our allies has promoted and generally enforced a stable, rules-based world order for over seven decades. This power and influence was realized through the sacrifices of our World War II generation, maintained through more than four decades of national resolve during the Cold War, and renewed in the wake of the 9/11 attacks.
In today’s world, the continued exercise of that leadership depends critically upon maintaining and executing our — and maintaining and extending our preeminence in space and all of its many aspects. Our adversaries understand that and are actively working to prevent it. We must work together to ensure that they do not succeed. Thank you.
VP Pence: Thank you very much, Dr. Griffin, for those stirring words. Admiral James Ellis.
Admiral James Ellis: Mr. Vice President and distinguished members of the National Space Council, thank you for allowing me to appear before you at this here inaugural meeting. The national security of the United States is inextricably linked to space, but the technological advances in and increased national security reliance on space systems by our joint forces, allies, and partners, have created a superbly capable, critical infrastructure in space that has not been matched by coherent, supporting protection capabilities, loss mitigation strategies, and clearly articulated national policies.
As you’ve noted, Mr. Vice President, the threats range from sophisticated direct descent ASAP weapons to the proliferation of low-tech jammers that can disrupt satellite communication links without touching the spacecraft. They include the electromagnetic pulse impact of the detonation of a nuclear weapon in space but also the potential for cyber or terrorist attacks on the satellite ground control systems.
I make two points here. First, not all threats to our space assets originate in space, and not all our defense, mitigation, and deterrence efforts should be focused there. Second, the ability to threaten our national security space assets is not solely resident in nation states. It is also increasingly available to nonstate actors and individuals.
As with other of our national security challenges, a few dragons have been replaced by 100 snakes. To capably function in this newly contested environment, we need enhanced and focused space situational — space intelligence, excuse me, and space situational awareness, as my colleague, Dr. Griffin, has noted. We also need dramatically improved technical and tactical capabilities for the warfighter.
We need a coherent architecture to make robustness and resilience specified and quantified requirements in all elements of our systems and we need a system reconstitution and mitigation capability that is truly operationally responsive.
We must include commercial and allied partners in these conversations and appreciate that. If added to all space platforms, even relatively simple technologies, such as that motion sensor that turns on your garage light when someone walks up your driveway, can add insight and understanding to a global space neighborhood watch.
We need better tools to analyze, as a complete system, our space-related critical infrastructure, so that we understand where the need is most urgent. And, finally, we simply must get it all done faster because the threats are growing faster than our ability to counter them.
A friend of mind once told me that you know you are really in a crisis when they start waiving the rules. In national security space, we are there, and it’s time to appropriately unleash a world-class developmental, manufacturing and operational expertise.
Finally, in space, as in the cyber world, national security strategies from land, air, and sea do not always translate, and classic concepts of kinetic deterrence may not apply. A shared understanding of both what we are trying to do, and what are the limits on which we are allowed to do, is essential. Clear and unambiguous policy and strategy guidance from all of you will be vital to ensuring we achieve unity of purpose and effectiveness of outcome.
That clarity is also critical to reassuring our allies and deterring potential adversaries. We must lead global efforts to shape collective behavior and be very clear in our declaratory policies about what we stand for in space and what we will not stand for. We must not confuse effort with outcome or technology with strategy.
In space, as on earth, tactical energy in a strategic vacuum, no pun intended, is a recipe for failure. And in preserving America’s national security space capabilities and that of our partners and allies around the globe, failure is not an option. Thank you and I look forward to your questions.
VP Pence: Thank you, Admiral, for those very strong remarks. I look forward to our panel’s discussion momentarily. With that, the chair recognizes Colonel Pamela Melroy, who has a distinguished career as an Air Force test pilot, but also an astronaut who piloted the Discovery behind me in 2000 and was the commander of Discovery’s mission in 2007. I think that’s worth a round of applause.
Pamela Melroy: The applause is for — the applause is for Discovery. Thank you, Mr. Vice President. Good morning, Mr. Vice President and members of the National Space Council. Thank you for inviting me to speak to you today.
I am deeply concerned about sustaining the US ability to use our space assets to ensure air, naval, and ground superiority and to shore up our diminishing space superiority. Speed, the tempo of decision and information, is the problem, because our adversaries have figured out how to move inside our military decision loop, and our existing precision kill chain is inadequate to address many new and pressing threats.
You’re going to hear me echo several comments made by Dr. Griffin and Admiral Ellis. I’m going to do a little bit of a dive into what I consider the two most pressing issues. The first issue is the temp of space domain awareness, knowing what’s going on in space real time, rather than forensic information days after the fact.
Currently, the Air Force has about a dozen dedicated exquisite sensors with superb accuracy. They’re scattered widely, they can be affected by weather, and can only take periodic snapshots of objects in space. Hours and even days go by without updates to orbital locations.
Today, there are emerging threats to our spacecraft that can maneuver in minutes and hours. The possibility of missing a dynamic threat to our spacecraft is unacceptable. We have to have more sensors to get more frequent updates, but these sensors don’t have to be as precise and as expensive as our current sensors.
The frequency of observations combined with our current sensor data makes up for the lack of precision. The proliferation of commercial space surveillance sensors is a potential fit for this need. The second area where increased tempo is needed is tactical intelligence to support the ability to find a target, track and engage it, as well as to perform battle damage assessment, the entire kill chain.
In recent decades, we’ve become expert at using air assets to supply information for our precision weapon systems. In the future, we can’t assume a permissive operating environment for those air assets. Now, we do have truly magnificent space capability for strategic intelligence, critical for the planning, awareness, and attribution.
However, this capability is spread very thin, cannot be redirected in short, tactical time scales, and may now be held at risk. Additionally, our command and control structure isn’t designed to absorb and disseminate information quickly at large geographic scales, such as the pacific region or from multiple concurrent operations.
Enhancing our architecture with low-cost small satellite constellations can provide persistence and retasking on short time scales. These constellations should be under the direct control of the warfighter as tactical intelligence assets. These constellations must have collection algorithms, on-board processing, and dissemination of information directly to cockpits and ship bridges, without humans in the loop, enabling us to compress that kill chain in a denied environment. Thank you and I look forward to your questions.
VP Pence: Thank you very much, Colonel, and to all the members of the panel. Before we get to members of the National Space Council, the chair would just pose a question, given each of your extraordinary background in this area. With regard to national security in space, there’s much talk, it seems, in the public, about not wanting to militarize space.
But is it accurate for the layperson to know that from the time Sputnik went up, we, to one degree or another, have militarized space, and that the question is whether we weaponized space at this point. And I would just ask, given the testimony that we just heard and how our national security, as Admiral Ellis said, is inextricably linked to space, are our adversaries and potential adversaries moving toward weaponizing space in ways that should inform our development of national policy in space?
Michael Griffin: Do you want to start? I guess I’ll start. The choice as to whether or not to weaponize space is not one that we can make. We can only decide to match and raise our adversaries, who are already weaponizing space. I would add that space was first weaponized during World War II with the German V-2 short-range ballistic missile. That horse is long out of the barn.
Our best chance for avoiding future conflict in space, and frankly, its collaterally-related conflicts on earth, is to be and to appear to be so strong that no one wishes to take us on.
VP Pence: Admiral?
Admiral James Ellis: Thank you, Mr. Vice President. I think, as you know, there are parallels, historic perhaps, with the maritime domain, and virtually every arena in which the United States and before that, nations around the world, operated and exerted influence has progressed through a series that moved from initially exploration and then commerce and ultimately potential conflict.
We hope, as we all do, to avoid that conflict in space, but as I mentioned in my remarks, it’s entirely appropriate that we appreciate the difference between militarization and weaponization, we understand the reliance, as you’ve heard, from my colleagues here on my panel, that our national security architecture has on those space elements, and that we move effectively and with forethought to ensure that we are preserving those capabilities.
So we in the military — as a retired guy, I think I’ll still say that proudly — you have to deal with capabilities, not with intent. And the capabilities are well-known. Their growth, as you’ve articulated in your opening remarks, is well-documented. We can’t predict the intent.
John F. Kennedy, in 1962, said it’s up to us to define whether the space domain becomes an ocean of peace, as he called it, or an area of conflict. We have that choice, along with our allies, but deterrent concepts, understanding of what our policies are, and what — as I said in my remarks, what we stand for in space in terms of norms and acceptable behaviors and what we simply will not stand for is going to be an essential element of guaranteeing the continued access, not just for national security purposes, but as you’ve heard from the previous panels, for economic and research purposes, as well.
VP Pence: Thank you. Colonel?
Pamela Melroy: I think Dr. Griffin and Admiral Ellis have said quite clearly what I totally agree with, which is that this is not our choice. It’s already happened. And I do want to add one comment about the critical nature of attribution.
So attribution is important for a lot of different reasons. One is just to be able to clearly state when a bad actor has done something and what they have done. But I think it’s also important, as Admiral Ellis put it so eloquently, what we won’t stand for, and the attribution has to be a critical element of that.
VP Pence: Thank you, Colonel. We have a number of members of the council that have questions, but I appreciate your candor and trust that I may clear the line between militarization and weaponization. But I’m — I find myself in strong agreement with each of your echo about thereby the importance of deterrence for keeping it an ocean of peace. The director of National Intelligence, Dan Coats, recognize.
Dan Coats: Mr. Vice President, thank you, and particularly, of course I paid attention to every panel, but particularly keen attention to what was just said with this panel. The intelligence community understands that our dominance in space relative to the intelligence that we need to keep America safe and informed, whether it’s our fighters or whether it’s our national assets, is of critical importance.
The dominance that we’ve had in space has been at least on the way to being equaled, or perhaps equaled, by adversaries who wish to do us harm. And we have to recognize that, as wonderful it is to hear about the vision and the future for space and what it can provide commercially, what it can provide for human exploration, we end up here sobered up by the fact that, like other innovations that have occurred, the internet and so forth, and all the blessings that it brings and all the optimism it brings about the future, it’s a double-edged sword.
There’s a dark side and there’s a dark side to this and it forces us to be prepared. And so I think one of the important things this council can do is to ensure that we achieve the dominance in space necessary for us to protect our people, to keep our adversaries in a position where they can’t provide the dominance that could do us wrong. So the candor and means in which this part of this panel has brought, I think, is something that we need to focus on.
VP Pence: Thank you, Director Coats. Any comments from the panel following the director’s remarks? Before I recognize the acting director of Homeland Security, allow me another Indiana privilege, by recognizing an astronaut who is with us today who spent 168 days in space, four missions, 41 hours of spacewalks, and he is the pride of his home state of Indiana. Astronaut David Wolf is with us today. Thank you, David. May not forgive me for that, but had to do it. Secretary Duke.
Elaine Duke: Thank you for allowing the time to get my microphone on before you called on me. I appreciate it. I definitely agree that we need a space strategy, a space security strategy. And I’ve heard two different things among the three panels. One is critical infrastructure in space.
So we have commercial, we have a national defense, and it would almost argue for addressing some of the threats as they — as critical infrastructure aligned with that. So in the commercial sector, we’d have to make sure we have cyber security and national defense, the resilience you talked about.
But then someone, and I believe it was you, Admiral Ellis, mentioned space as critical infrastructure. And if we take your recommendation for this strategy, should we be looking at space as a critical infrastructure and all the security needs we’d have it across the national defense, Homeland Security and commercial? Do you have any recommendations?
Admiral James Ellis: Well, I think you’re exactly right, Madame Secretary. The reality is that in space as in so many other domains, as Director Coats knows well, the line between what is a national security asset and what is a commercial asset has long been blurred. We rely very, very heavily in the military, in today’s military, on commercial entities, and so that’s the reason that the definition critical infrastructure at large, it’s inappropriate anymore to parse it our very narrowly on military only or national security only or intelligence community only capabilities, because we are reliant on that full-range of capabilities [unintelligible] space, including commercial, in order to accomplish that mission.
It’s a complete system now and needs to be addressed as such, and that’s why I use the critical infrastructure term and think that a strategy needs to be focused on how we can effectively secure that in its entirety, not just predict one element of it that may have a DOD or an intelligence community label.
Pamela Melroy: I’d like to echo that and there’s a piece of this that it’s a systems engineering problem. So you’ve heard from three panels today. Each civil, commercial, and national security space are all inextricably linked together, particularly by this infrastructure, but also by other technologies. And when you stop and think about the number of ATM transactions that go through commercial geo satellites today and ask yourself about critical infrastructure, you begin to see that it’s not just a launchpad or other types of capabilities that are in that critical path.
So from my perspective, it’s very, very important that the strategy looks across all the domains and is an integrated systems engineering approach to what is the architecture of that infrastructure that we need? How will we support it? And if we make changes to what we’re doing today in one area, how it affects all the other areas.
Michael Griffin: I’d like to add a quick comment, to put some numbers on what Admiral Ellis was talking about. 80 percent of our national security communications go via commercial satellite routes. If we were to lose that infrastructure, our national security communications would be greatly reduced in capability.
When we talk about economic infrastructure, I don’t think the general public realizes the extent to which the global positioning system’s timing signal is critical for these ATM transactions and every other point of sale transaction conducted in the United States and throughout most of the world.
I have to ask the question, to what extent do we believe that we have defended ourselves, if an adversary can bring our economic system near collapse? We may not lose a single piece of hardware, but we’re not functioning as a nation.
VP Pence: Thank the panel, thank you Madame Secretary. Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson.
Rex Tillerson: You have — you’ve touched on a couple of areas that I think are really important and I want to go a little deeper on them. We know that our adversaries are developing antisatellite weapons, other capabilities to degrade our capabilities, both our military and our security capabilities, and impacts on commercial capabilities as well.
And as you’ve pointed out, deterrence, you know, having a strong posture has always been what has been reliable in the past. And much of that is built with allies and partners in the past. We have existing structure of alliances today. To what extent are they the proper platforms to build out these capabilities through allies and partners whom also are developing certain capabilities in space themselves? Or is the nature of this threat — does it require a different platform or structure for building and strengthening these approaches through allies and partners?
And the second question I have gets to the conflict, the likelihood of conflict, and I think this was touched on earlier as well. We have a lot of — we’ve practiced a lot to deconflict maritime operations with our adversaries to deconflict air operations. We have not practiced, and we do not have the standards and norms to practice deconfliction in space.
And do you have ideas about the ways to address that and what are the norms that would be the basis for beginning to engage in deconfliction capabilities as well? So two separate but not unrelated questions.
Admiral James Ellis: Well, I’ll be glad to take the first shot at it. First, in interest of brevity, allies are absolutely essential in this effort going forward. If anything, even more so than the atmospheric and the maritime domain, space is a true global common, and the number of participants that are involved actively in space with satellites and space programs of their own, is well over 100 now.
And so if we’re talking about coming together in collective security, it makes a great deal of sense to integrate those efforts and to have commonality when appropriate. We understand the challenges of technology transfer — that was talked about in another panel — but I do think the mutual security elements of this are going to be essential. Because just as Dr. Griffin indicated, a lot of our communications go through commercial satellites. Not all of those commercial satellites we use are US satellites, and so I think there’s a logical extension there.
With regard to conflict and deconflict, I think if I might default back to the maritime domain again. Over many centuries, we had an ability to rub the rough edges off these relationships and create rules of the road in the maritime domain and ultimately acceptable behaviors. Even supranational organizations, such as the International Maritime Organization and the International Civil Aviation Organization were constructed and ultimately follow on treaties and relationships. Which of these are applicable to space is something we need to explore.
Not all of them, as I said earlier, may work, but I think that’s the direction we need to go so that we can help people understand and avoid accidents and avoid miscalculation on the part of allies. It’s not that we have to tell people exactly what we will do in every situation, but it’s absolutely essential that they understand, and we communicate through whatever means, not necessarily publicly, where our major concerns are so that we don’t stumble into confrontation, much less conflict, on a random basis.
Pamela Melroy: I think that, from an international perspective, we have a strong partnership in the Five Eyes and we really should be building on that. When you think about resilience and persistence and reconstitution, the geographical diversity that comes with having partners around the world, both in space surveillance but potentially in launch, in command and control nodes, ground tracking stations and so forth, absolutely essential as a part of that architecture.
I thought Admiral Ellis’s comments about norms were very good. I will make one additional comment to that, which is that norms and standards need to be things that we are also willing to do. It will not work if we say, “Oh, we don’t want people to do certain things. Oh, but, oh, well if we need to do it, we’re just going to go ahead and do it anyway.”
And that’s why those norms and standards need to be based on safety and clarity. In other words, not confusing people about intentions and so forth. And a wonderful example of norms and standards that have been adopted internationally that have a strong technical basis are the orbital debris mitigation standards developed by NASA and proliferated throughout the world, that most countries have agreed to do from a safety standpoint, right? The sustainability of space. And so those norms and standards need to be based on practical safety and clarity as opposed to preferences and wishes.
VP Pence: Thank you, the panel. Dr. Griffin, another thought on this?
Michael Griffin: Just a quick comment. You asked about — secretary — Mr. Secretary asked about alliances. The United States is a great nation. I hope — we all hope always will be. Great nations, of course, must be prepared sometimes to lead alone, if necessary, but great nations also understand the value of alliances and partnerships and nowhere is this more true or has proven more true than in space.
Going forward, if we want to know what a conflict of the future looks like without our space assets, we need to look to the past and look at World War II. I don’t think we want to repeat that experience. Our allies don’t want to repeat it. The value of the western alliance that we have, the value of our alliances with Japan, South Korea, other nations — Pam mentioned the Five Eyes — these are critical to carry forward with us in space. Absolutely critical.
VP Pence: Well, I want to thank the panel, and a few more comments. Let me recognize the president’s Homeland Security advisor, Tom Bossert, for a comment or a question.
Tom Bossert: Thank you, Mr. Vice President, and I am thrilled to be part of this long overdue council. I think the National Space Council has a lot of challenges ahead of it and a lot of opportunities, so maybe a quick question, and Dr. Griffin, you’ve already perhaps addressed it, so I’ll ask to — if I can get you to expand upon your thoughts.
From a security perspective, both physical and cyber, I’m really interested in your views and the panels views on the vulnerabilities and challenges to a reliable, sustained space-based positioning, navigation, and timing infrastructure, and in particular, the relationships or the actions that we need to take to maintain American preeminence.
I understand there’s competitors to the GPS system that we’ve relied upon so heavily, but I also understand there are vulnerabilities that are being exploited on a regular basis, and that timing function is not only critical physically but to our cyber operations. And so if I could ask that question, and then before I finish, add to Mick Mulvaney’s comments, this isn’t a question but perhaps off the stage, I’d like to understand your considerations and your views on the considerations involved in delineating outer space in our declarative policy, as that affects our commercial partners.
Michael Griffin: Well, I’ll go first. To the second question, to answer your second question, whether on or off stage, I’m always available for the sorts of discussion you have only to ask. Obviously, I’m a person who leans forward in saying that we need to be very clear, as Admiral Ellis has so succinctly said, about what we will do and what we will accept and what we won’t accept, and I do think that needs to be part of our declarative policy.
With regard to GPS, and frankly, other elements of our critical infrastructure, we need to be extremely clear that an attack on these assets isn’t an attack on the United States. Because it influences critically our way of dealing with conflict and that we will not tolerate it.
GPS is vulnerable in a number of ways. I’m not going to go into those ways in this environment. We need to do everything we can to proliferate GPS derived by GPS independent methods of capturing and preserving our timing signals and our navigational information. We need to make it clear that we will protect our space assets, that we do not allow our adversaries an unfettered field of force application in space. That we choose not to be the first, but that we will assuredly be the last. I’m sorry.
Admiral James Ellis: Well, thank you for the question. I echo Mike’s comments on PNT and your understanding, certainly, Dr. Ross. It’s also worth noting that, you know, we made great strides since GPS was first invented. It began as a transit system for the navy years ago and we worked through GPS 1, 2, and 3, and while we could all agree that we need to have that capability to move much more rapidly through that, there are opportunities to incrementally evolve our capabilities in space to ensure that continued access and security that we need to fully capitalize on, as Mike has indicated, a lot of those elements are classified but they’re certainly doable.
Secondly, with regard to the declaratory policy, we — you know, you can look back in history and we’ve had declaratory policies. And declaratory doesn’t mean necessarily in a public press release. We’ve let adversaries know, particularly in relation to elements to the Nuclear Command and Control Network, how we would view anything that disrupted or disturbed, much less destroyed those capabilities. And so there’s a precedent for this kind of a communication, once we decide exactly what that policy and strategy needs to be going forward.
VP Pence: Colonel?
Pamala Melroy: Yes, I’d just like to add that this is not something that’s caught us all by surprise. When I was at DARPA, we were working closely with the service labs and the services to ensure that we had GPS-independent methods of navigation and that technology development is absolutely essential.
Interestingly, you know, long-term it can have a different technology benefit as we reach out into the solar system, where we will not have the benefit of GPS position information. So that’s a very important technology development effort, but I’d like to reiterate exactly what Dr. Griffin said. Because, although we may have those capabilities for national security to be GPS-independent, that is not the case for our economic environment here in the US.
And, of course, the economic health of the US is a national security matter and it will be years before any changes occur in that environment. They will change very slowly. There’s tremendous commercial dependence on it, and so I agree with Dr. Griffin, that an attack on GPS is an attack on the US.
VP Pence: Thank you very much to the panel and thank you, Tom. We’re going to recognize the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Paul Selva, and then the deputy of Secretary of Defense for some closing remarks before we hear from the National Security Advisor, but General, you’re recognized.
Paul Selva: Thank you, Mr. Vice President. Thank you to all of our panel members for taking your personal time to be here today to represent all three segments of our space, architecture, and infrastructure. And it occurs to me, as I listen to all three panels, particularly this one, that command and control is inexorably linked to very elegant and timely, as you said, Pamela, space situational awareness.
And I would like to ask the panel, can you give us a couple of concrete near-term things you think we can do, not only to facilitate the command and control of commercial and civil space, but also to provide for the kind of space situational awareness that’s necessary to enforce those norms and standards of safe behavior, as well as to attribute the kinds of attacks or interference with our systems that we might observe through that structure?
Michael Griffin: I think this is a case where safety lies in numbers. I believe that the concept of a centralized command and control node, centralized observation points, is, frankly, as dead as the battleship after Pearl Harbor. Every node in our networks, with today’s information technology, every node can be a command and control node.
We need to work out a strategy and a hierarchy for how such devolution would take place in the event of conflict, but the enemy should know that there is no central point of attack with could render us incapacitated. I’ll stop there.
Admiral James Ellis: Thank you, General. I echo Mike’s comments and I hope you didn’t interpret my comments on the neighborhood watch in my opening statement as trivializing it. I believe that, along the lines of Mike’s conversation, in addition to command and control, each of these resources up there can be outfitted with a rudimentary sensor suite of some stripe that could then collectively feed this network and this awareness.
We’re belatedly, arguably, moving on a much more capable space fence. That ought to be just the first step in ensuring a situation [unintelligible] you are fully aware there are now commercial enterprises out there that can network ground base systems of sensors to, not with the same fidelity and accuracy of our national security resources, but certainly contribute information and insight to this.
This is a collective effort. This is a team sport going forward, and by team, I don’t just mean US civilian. I mean allies and partners, as well, around the globe, and I think this is absolutely essential.
Pamela Melroy: Admiral Ellis is right. There have been tremendous advances in distributed sensor networks, where you have distributed sensors that all coordinate together where the hole is greater than the sum of the parts, and that technology is widely available. As I talked about, there’s some commercial sensors now for space surveillance, essentially academic telescopes, commercial telescopes and radars, and this information is available today.
It’s being purchased by commercial entities, by the SDA. I think that’s an immediate step that could be taken would be to bring this data in. One of the biggest concerns about it is how can you trust this data? Even today there are analysts who look at all the data that comes in, even from our certified sensors, and analyze it to evaluate whether there’s biases that are developing, whether weather is having a negative effect on the information that we’re gathering.
But that’s pretty much a hand done process. It takes about four or five days to really be sure how confident you are in the quality of what you’re looking at. All of that can be automated relatively easily, and that’s a very, very important aspect of it.
When you get a new piece of information, you need to be able to tell immediately whether something actually just happened on orbit or if one of your distributed sensors has been spoofed and is giving you incorrect information, and that is incredibly important. And it is possible to automate that. We’ve seen the technologies being developed for it, so I think that, General, in the near term, that’s something that should be looked at.
VP Pence: That’s great. For the last comment or question, the Deputy Secretary of Defense, Pat Shanahan.
Pat Shanahan: Thank you, Mr. Vice President. Maybe to bring us home and where we started, space is the opportunity. And I think the previous comments kind of steered us toward some of the challenges, but and this question, I think, goes to Admiral Ellis. You had an extraordinary career and some very remarkable experiences.
Maybe in the context of looking forward, when you think about how — and this pertains to your experience in the Navy, as a pilot, a strategic command commander — as maritime law evolved, does that serve as a basis for us to think about international convention or regulation? And how should we use that to shape this opportunity?
Admiral James Ellis: Thank you, Mr. Secretary. I certainly do think it does apply. It’s a template against which we can compare the space environment and our challenges there and quite frankly, cyberspace as well. As I mentioned earlier, some things will translate. Some things may not, and that’s part of our judgment on our evaluation process, but it’s certainly a starting point.
And as you know and as we discussed, over time we’ve come to establish and agree to and actively participate in and support a global understanding of what the rules of behavior are and what they are not. We can call out people very clearly and very candidly when they violate those rules. It’s taken a long time to do that. Unfortunately, in space, things have evolved at a pace where those kinds of policies and those opportunities haven’t been presented. Things happen too fast.
I mean, the technology we are talking about today, you know, began, you know, essentially about 60 years ago. And so it’s time to play catch-up and I think the maritime can begin a discussion. It can talk about the treaties, as I mentioned, and the supranational organizations, but at the end of the day, we also need to get it down to the tactical.
We created, even during the dark days of the Cold War, the so-called Incident at Sea agreements with the Russians, where we agreed what we would and would not do under certain circumstances, to avoid miscalculation and accident and collisions and potentially misunderstandings and misinterpretation of hostile intent.
And those kinds of dialogues, that full spectrum of engagement, based on those applicable elements of the maritime experience, I think, are a great starting point for that policy and strategy discussion. And as the preeminent space-faring leader, we need to lead that effort and not just accept what gets handed to us or what evolves or what someone else who might risk us ill, as was mentioned earlier, might choose to advance as an alternative solution.
Pat Shanahan: That’s great. Thank you.
VP Pence: Thank you, Pat. Very thoughtful. And would you all join me in thanking this extraordinary group of Americans for their presentation today? Thank you all. This has obviously been an enormously important discussion for our country and one that we will continue on the National Space Council in appropriate settings. I’m grateful for the panelists for their time and I want to commend members of the council for your thoughtful participation in this panel and in the previous panels.
General McMaster, the president’s National Security Advisor, you and your team been working on guiding interagency development of the space strategic framework. I wondered if you would offer a few thoughts, perhaps an unclassified overview on the status of those efforts.
H.R. McMaster: Thank you, Mr. Vice President, and thanks to everyone who came today and especially those around the table who we’ve been working with over the past several months to develop the space strategic framework, a framework that I think will be valuable as we continue this discussion, as we learn from the expertise that’s here today and even beyond this room.
So, as Marillyn Hewson mentioned on the first panel, Mr. Vice President, the pace of technology is increasing. And what we see is a combination of greater counterspace threats and a greater demand for space services, rapidly expanding commercial industry and untapped potential of space exploration. All of this is calling for an integrated strategy to ensure that the United State’s vital interests are advanced.
And so much of the strategic framework is classified, Mr. Vice President, but what I’ll do today is highlight some of the key elements very quickly that are unclassified. And what I’d like to do is really discuss four key elements of the strategy.
First, our strategic framework seeks to ensure US leadership, preeminence, and freedom of action in space. And I think, based on the discussion today, will actually emphasize across all domains more in the document, as well. But to ensure that preeminence for decades to come.
Second, while the strategic framework promotes an America first approach, it is consistent with what the panelists have said and what you have said many times, Mr. Vice President, that America first doesn’t mean America alone. To the contrary, we will secure the benefits of space, not only for ourselves but for and with our friends and allies, as an essential part of this framework.
Third, the framework defines our vital interest in space, and again, we may modify this, about how space relates to vital interests and other domains as well, based on Dr. Griffin’s and others emphasis on the cross-domain aspects. But we want to ensure unfettered access to, and freedom to operate in, the space domain, to advance the security, economic prosperity, and scientific knowledge of the nation, and I think that parallels, really, the composition of the three panels today.
And then fourth, as Dennis Muilenburg mentioned, the framework also outlines four primary objectives in pursuit of our vital interests, and this is the beginning of an integrated strategy to guard against what Admiral Ellis said, is, you know, we don’t want this — a strategic vacuum.
And these are the four objectives. First, to strengthen the safety, stability, and sustainability of space activities. I think based on Dr. Griffin’s comments, we might add resilience there as well. Second, to deter, and when necessary, defeat adversary space and counterspace threats that are hostile to the national interest of the United States and our allies. And we may not start it again, but we’ll finish it. We’ll be the last.
Consistent with what we’ve heard from the great panelists today, we will, as a third objective, partner with the US commercial sector to ensure that American companies remain the leading providers of traditional and innovative space technologies, goods, and services on the international space market.
And then fourth, the fourth objective, to maintain and extend US human presence and robotic explorations beyond earth, to transform knowledge of ourselves, our planet, our solar system, and the universe. And so with your concurrence, Mr. Vice President, once you’re able to review this, what we will do with your approval is we will now begin to flesh out this strategic framework.
We’ll identify and we’ll do this collaboratively with those who are here today and beyond. We’ll identify the specific tasks, the resources, and the authorities required. We’ll identify measures of effectiveness and we’ll do a periodic assessment of what we’re doing. We’re going to move out, Mr. Vice President, and as Admiral Ellis has said, as Colonel Mackeroy said, we have to emphasize speed and move out quickly. Thank you, Mr. Vice President.
VP Pence: Well, thank you, General, and if there is no further comment from members of the council regarding the strategy that General McMaster outlined, and hearing none, I would simply direct you to continue to work with other members of the council and to develop an implementation plan for that framework over the next 45 days, for a presentation to President Trump with his — for his approval. So we’ll proceed on that basis, General. Thank you very much.
We are at the end of this first meeting of the National Space Council. I want to thank each of the members of the council and your staffs for what has been an enlightening and engaging dialogue and from where I’m sitting, and I trust where the President is sitting, very good start on a new beginning for the National Space Council and for the development of renewed American energy in space exploration, both in the area of civil space exploration, commercial space exploration, and of course our presence in space that contributes to our national security.
Also, I want to thank our staff, in particular, and you could stand while I say your name. Daris Meeks, who’s our policy director, Scott Pace, who is leading the National Space Council, Jared Stout and the team. Thank you for pulling together a very successful day. I’m very pleased. Good job, guys.
Lastly, to be brief to my fellow council members, you have your marching orders. Let’s work on a 45-day timeframe for turning around my recommendations and proposals to the president based upon this first meeting of the National Space Council. I think today we proved that many of the best ideas that will shape American space policy will come from outside the halls of government and I can assure all of those present that we’re going to continue to avail ourselves of the very best and brightest American minds as we develop policies for presentation to President Trump.
I’m pleased to report, in that vein, that very soon the president has directed us to relaunch the National Space Council’s advisory group to foster close coordination and cooperation technology information. This group will bring together a broad range of truly exceptional Americans, men and women who are committed to advancing and renewing American leadership in space.
In the days ahead, NASA will enter a notice into the federal register to kick off the process of recruiting candidates for the group and the president will make a selection, based on the recommendations of the National Space Council, for who is appointed to that, and we encourage any citizens who have an interest to avail yourself of the opportunity to express that interest going forward.
The members will all be private citizens but their work for this council will be of the highest public service. So I think we heard many themes today. I won’t take any more of people’s times other than to say thank you. Thank you to all of our — could we give another round of applause to the distinguished panels that presented today?
We’re grateful for your time and grateful for and inspired by your words and your leadership and I’m grateful for members of the National Space Council. Cabinet members who are here, thank you for making this a priority. We’ve got a lot of work to do, but as the president said in his inaugural address, “In America, we understand that a nation is only living as long as it is striving.” And with the president’s strong leadership, with the participation of this council and with the support of many distinguished Americans, I’m confident America will lead in space again. Thank you very much and God bless you.
Transcript: National Space Council Meeting / October 5, 2017
- on October 20, 2017
Newt’s Newsletter: Renewing American Leadership in space.