National Space Council Expands Membership

 In Energy, Space

Undersecretary of Energy for Science Paul Dabbar sooke about the roles his depart­ment could play sup­port­ing the space indus­try at the SpaceCom Expo in November. Credit: Dept. of Energy

WASHINGTON — The White House has added the Secretary of Energy and two other offi­cials to the roster of mem­bers of the National Space Council.

In a state­ment issued late Feb. 13, the White House announced that the Secretary of Energy, Assistant to the President for Economic Policy and the Assistant to the President for Domestic Policy had been added to the mem­ber­ship of the coun­cil. President Trump signed an exec­u­tive order amend­ing the 2017 order that for­mal­ly reestab­lished the coun­cil to add them as offi­cial mem­bers.

“The Department of Energy’s research and capa­bil­i­ties have long con­tributed to American space explo­ration pri­or­i­ties,” Scott Pace, exec­u­tive sec­re­tary of the coun­cil, said in the state­ment. “DOE National Laboratories con­duct crit­i­cal research to devel­op tech­nolo­gies nec­es­sary for pow­er­ing human space­flight, lunar sur­face oper­a­tions and future mis­sions to Mars.”

The depart­ment has, in recent months, worked to empha­size the roles it can play in space. While best known for its work in nuclear power, such as pro­duc­ing the plu­to­ni­um used for radioiso­tope power sys­tems that power deep-space mis­sions, it has played up the much wider range of research it sup­ports that could have space appli­ca­tions.

“I think the real­i­ty is, of the $18 bil­lion or so a year of R&D spend­ing that we have, most people don’t under­stand the breadth of what we cur­rent­ly do,” said Undersecretary of Energy for Science Paul Dabbar in an inter­view in November at the SpaceCom Expo in Houston, where he spoke about the var­i­ous lines of research, from quan­tum net­works to radi­a­tion-hard­ened elec­tron­ics, where his depart­ment sees poten­tial space appli­ca­tions.

At the time, Dabbar said that while the depart­ment was not part of the National Space Council, it was in “con­stant dia­logue” with agen­cies who were, such as NASA, on topics of inter­est. That includes the effect that satel­lite mega­con­stel­la­tions like SpaceX’s Starlink will have on astron­o­my, as the depart­ment funds some astro­nom­i­cal research, such as an instru­ment on what is now known as the Vera C. Rubin Observatory under con­struc­tion in Chile.

In a sep­a­rate panel dis­cus­sion at the SpaceCom Expo, Conner Prochaska, chief com­mer­cial­iza­tion offi­cer at the Energy Department, said there was a “space coor­di­na­tion group” at the depart­ment to dis­cuss what capa­bil­i­ties it could offer to the space indus­try.

He added that the depart­ment was, at that time, an observ­er to the National Space Council. “Maybe we’ll get invit­ed to the big boy table at some point.”

The Assistant to the President for Economic Policy, one of the two other new mem­bers of coun­cil, chairs the National Economic Council, which advis­es the pres­i­dent on domes­tic and for­eign eco­nom­ic issues. That posi­tion is cur­rent­ly held by Larry Kudlow. The Assistant to the President for Domestic Policy, Joseph Grogan, chairs the Domestic Policy Council, which address­es a wide range of domes­tic policy issues out­side of eco­nom­ics.

“The addi­tion of the Director of the National Economic Council Larry Kudlow and the Director of the Domestic Policy Council Joseph Grogan reflects NEC’s and DPC’s strong sup­port for grow­ing the space econ­o­my and stream­lin­ing reg­u­la­to­ry bur­dens in the space sector,” Pace said in the state­ment announc­ing their addi­tion to the National Space Council.

Source: SpaceNews

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