Archive for July, 2017

Credit: SETI Institute


The best way to find laser flashes from another civilization is to always look everywhere

The SETI Institute in Mountain View, California has released details of “Laser SETI: First Ever All-Sky All-the-Time Search – an essential capability when looking for intermittent signals.

Flash drive

The first flash from the group is they’ve launched a fund raising drive.

While Laser SETI is exceedingly cost efficient, astronomy-grade cameras must be purchased and optics fabricated.

The SETI Institute has established funding levels needed to advance to a fully operational system.

Credit: ESA/Hubble & NASA

Aliens: on-the-air, all the time?

According to Bill Diamond, President and CEO of the SETI Institute:

“The Universe we call home is vast! It’s also nearly 14 billion years old so it’s very difficult to imagine that we are alone. Yet extraterrestrial life still eludes our efforts to find it. Now you have a chance to be a part of the technology that can change that forever.”

For the last 50 years, whether the extraterrestrials are wielding massive radio transmitters or high-powered lasers, those carrying out SETI experiments have assumed that the aliens are on-the-air, all the time.

Credit: SETI Institute


Circumvent an assumption

“But that might not be right,” Diamond responds. “After all, would these other-worldly beings relentlessly target our solar system if, like the overwhelming majority of galactic stars, they’re more than 100 light-years away — far enough that they haven’t learned we’re here, because our own signals haven’t yet reached them?”

Laser SETI is the first experiment to circumvent this assumption, Diamond adds, “because it’s designed to find a very short ping that doesn’t stay on all the time — it can detect a laser flash as short as a microsecond; and one that might not repeat for days, weeks, or even longer.”


For detailed information on this new SETI effort and their Indiegogo campaign, go to:

Also, take a look at this informative video:


Birds-1 constellation wings its way after launch from the ISS.
Credit: NASA

Back in February of this year, an Indian Space Research Organization rocket deployed over a hundred miniature spacecraft into Earth orbit, the largest stream of petite spacecraft, called CubeSats, dispensed into space courtesy of a single heave-ho booster.

On July 7 a volley of five cubesats carrying amateur radio payloads — dubbed the BIRDS-1 constellation — were hurled into Earth orbit shotgun-style from the Japanese Kibo module attached to the International Space Station.

GomX-4B with GomX-4A Credit GomsSace

Then there’s an upcoming Russian liftoff of a Soyuz booster set to loft a primary payload along with over 70 hitchhiking small satellites fabricated by a diverse set of countries. That gaggle of CubeSats ready to pepper Earth orbit have different jobs, from collecting GPS radio occultation and ship tracking data and performing Earth-remote imaging tasks to shaking out attitude control and propulsion technologies.

NASA’s PhoneSat 2.5, launched in April 2014, used commercial smartphone technology for low-cost development of basic spacecraft capabilities.
Credit: NASA


Heavenly headache?

For now CubeSats’ popularity is clearly on the upswing.

First used as teaching tools and for technology demonstrations, their utility to perform more complex science duties and serve as the backbone of commercial services is gaining traction.

What remains to be seen is whether or not their proliferation adds to the heavenly headache of dealing with the escalating hazard of Earth-orbiting debris.


For more information, go to my new Scientific American story:

Sweating the Small Stuff: CubeSats Swarm Earth Orbit

By Leonard David on July 12, 2017

Curiosity Navcam Right B image taken on Sol 1751, July 10, 2017.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Curiosity performed a “jam-packed” weekend of contact and remote science on some beautiful sand deposits, reports Rachel Kronyak, a planetary geologist from the University of Tennessee in Knoxville.

The Mars machinery is now wrapping up Sol 1752 duties.

Long-distance mosaic

A current plan uses the rover’s Chemistry and Camera (ChemCam) to target “Grogg Ledge,” a small patch of Murray bedrock in front of Curiosity. ChemCam will also use its Remote Micro-Imager (RMI) to take a long-distance mosaic of an interesting portion of Vera Rubin Ridge.

“After our ChemCam activities, we’ll take a suite of Mastcam mosaics to finalize our coverage of the sand deposits that we looked at over the weekend,” Kronyak adds.

Curiosity Navcam Left B image acquired on Sol 1752, July 11, 2017.
Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Drive ahead

Curiosity is slated to then drive, take some post-drive images, and perform a post-drive Autonomous Exploration for Gathering Increased Science (AEGIS) observation – novel autonomy software.

Also on tap is conducting a Sample Analysis at Mars (SAM) Instrument Suite Electrical Baseline Test (EBT), Kronyak notes, which is designed to periodically monitor SAM’s electrical functions.

Curiosity Mastcam Left photo taken on Sol 1751, July 10, 2017.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

The rover is due to carry out a series of environmental monitoring activities, including standard Rover Environmental Monitoring Station (REMS) and Dynamic Albedo of Neutrons (DAN) measurements during the day, and an early morning suite too.

New road map

A new road map of Curiosity’s wheeling and dealing with Mars through Sol 1751 has been issued.

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/University of Arizona

The map shows the route driven by NASA’s Mars rover Curiosity through the 1751 Martian day, or sol, of the rover’s mission on Mars (July 10, 2017).

Numbering of the dots along the line indicate the sol number of each drive. North is up. The scale bar is 1 kilometer (~0.62 mile).



From Sol 1748 to Sol 1751, Curiosity had driven a straight line distance of about 18.36 feet (5.60 meters), bringing the rover’s total odometry for the mission to 10.52 miles (16.93 kilometers).

The base image from the map is from the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment Camera (HiRISE) in NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter.

Credit: SpaceNews


While the impact from the recent China Long March 5 booster failure is still unknown, space engineers in that country are working on the bold Chang’e-5 lunar return sample mission.

The mooncraft was originally targeted for a November liftoff atop a Long March 5 booster. It would depart from the newly completed Wenchang Space Launch Center in south China’s Hainan Province.

Apollo 15 image captures landing locale of China’s Chang’e-5 Moon lander – the Mons Rümker region in the northern part of Oceanus Procellarum.
Credit: NASA

If successful, this robotic vehicle would tote back to Earth the first lunar samples in over 40 years.




What is known is that Chang’e-5’s landing site was announced last month during the Global Space Exploration Conference (GLEX) 2017 meeting held in Beijing: the Mons Rümker region within a part of the moon’s Oceanus Procellarum.

What’s more, lunar scientists are very excited about that landing locale – and for good reason.




Here’s my recent story in SpaceNews on this ambitious Chinese mission:

Credit: ASDReports

A new report has assessed the nanosatellite and microsatellite market, an appraisal that projects out to 2022 the worldwide demand for small spacecraft.

Based on mass, the smallsat market has been segmented into 1 kg-10 kg (nanosatellite) and 11 kg-100 kg (microsatellite).

Based on application, the nanosatellite and microsatellite market has been segmented into communication, Earth observation and remote sensing, scientific research, biological experiment, technology demonstration and verification, academic training, mapping and navigation, and reconnaissance.

Key factors

“The low manufacturing cost of miniature satellites is one of the key factors expected to drive the growth of the nanosatellite and microsatellite market,” the new assessment notes. “The nanosatellite and microsatellite market is projected to grow from USD 1.21 billion in 2017 to USD 3.49 billion by 2022, at a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 23.7% during the forecast period,” explains ASDReports, a research group in Amsterdam, the Netherlands.

Factors such as the high demand for miniature satellites in Earth observation applications, low manufacturing cost of miniature satellites, and increased investments in nanosatellite and microsatellite technologies are expected to drive the growth of the market.

However, the study cautions that the implementation of stringent regulations pertaining to the increasing number of satellites being launched can restrain the growth of the market.

Credit: NASA

Services segment

ASDReports explains that, based on component, the service segment is estimated to be the largest segment of the nanosatellite and microsatellite market in 2017.

Services offered by companies in the market include planning and satellite design, mission management, engineering services, science services, testing, support, and all such services needed for the efficient operation of nanosatellites and microsatellites.

The growth of the services segment can be primarily attributed to the high demand for vendors of nanosatellites and microsatellites that provide support services, in addition to developing and designing miniature satellites.

Earth observation

As for the services that small satellites can provide, the new study points out that the Earth observation and remote sensing segment is expected to be the largest segment of the market in 2017.

Earth remote sensing spacecraft.
Credit: Planet

“The high mobility of nanosatellites and microsatellites, due to their compactness, makes them ideal to forecast disasters with no delay in reporting time and track various weather-related phenomena, such as hurricanes, lightning, polar lights, or natural catastrophes.”

Largest, fastest-growing markets

North America is estimated to be the largest market for nanosatellites and microsatellites in 2017, due to the high demand for these satellites from NASA and the U.S. Department of Defense, as well as research organizations and companies in the telecommunication sector.

Europe is expected to be the fastest-growing market for nanosatellites and microsatellites during the forecast period. “The market in Europe includes the U.K., Russia, Germany, and France, who are rapidly gaining technological leadership in satellite manufacturing. The market for nanosatellites and microsatellites in Europe is expected to witness the highest growth during the forecast period due to the increased demand for missions that provide data for Earth observation and scientific exploration.”


For more information on this new ASDReports study “Nanosatellite and Microsatellite Market by Component (Hardware, Software & Data Processing, Services, Launch Services)”, go to:

Curiosity Front Hazcam Right B image acquired on Sol 1749, July 8, 2017.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

NASA’s Curiosity rover on Mars is wrapping up Sol 1749 science tasks.

“Curiosity has intentionally scuffed a nearby sand ripple, which has gifted the team with an exceptional view of the interior of these small sand deposits,” reports Michael Battalio and atmospheric scientist from Texas A&M University in College Station, Texas.

Curiosity Navcam Left B image acquired on Sol 1748, July 7, 2017.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

“The majority of the weekend’s activities will consist of lots of targeted science on the scuff, as there is no nearby bedrock for Curiosity to observe,” Battalio adds. “This is in contrast to the past week where quick documentation of local changes in stratigraphy of the bedrock as we drive closer to Vera Rubin Ridge was the priority.”

Ripple crest

Battalio notes that several targets were selected for observations around the scuff including the undisturbed ripple crest that is grayer with coarse grains, “Enchanted Island,” the undisturbed ripple side that is redder and finer-grained, “Thomas Little Toes,” and the wall of the scuff that cuts through the ripple, “Ile Damour.”

Curiosity Navcam Left B image taken on Sol 1748, July 7, 2017.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

These targets will be imaged by the robot’s Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) with particular focus on imaging the wall of the scuff to detect any layering within the interior of the ripple that has been uncovered.

Curiosity’s Alpha Particle X-Ray Spectrometer (APXS) will perform extended integrations on Thomas Little Toes and Enchanted Island.

Safety precautions

“Unfortunately, an APXS integration will not be performed on Ile Damour, and MAHLI will remain 5 centimeters away from this target to ensure safety of the instruments by not bringing the arm too close to the ripple at the risk of the side of the ripple collapsing,” Battalio reports. “Mastcam will also image these areas for comparison of grain size, color, and composition to previously observed ripples.”

On the schedule is use of the rover’s Chemistry and Camera (ChemCam) to target Enchanted Island for comparison to two other ripple crest targets and Ile Damour to detect differences in grain size and composition in comparison to the targets on the ripple surface.

Change detection

Two other areas along and near the crest of the un-scuffed ripple will be targeted by Mastcam and ChemCam: “Verona” is slightly away from the crest of the ripple, and “Merrymeeting Bay” is at the base of the ripple crest.

“These two additional targets were selected to compare differences in grain size and composition and detect changes in color across the surface of the ripple,” Battalio explains. “An interesting wrinkle in planning was ordering the observations so that ChemCam activities on the wall of the scuff (the Ile Damour target) occurred after any imaging from MAHLI, in case actively shooting the fragile wall side disturbed or shifted the sand along the scuff wall.”

Curiosity Navcam Left B image acquired on Sol 1748, July 7, 2017.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Unusual selfie

Before the science activities with the arm, Battalio says, Curiosity will take “a rather unusual selfie of sorts” by pointing MAHLI directly into the eye of Mastcam to look at the Mastcam sunshade. This measurement is being taken to ensure that grains of sand are not interfering with Mastcam tau measurements – the amount of dust within the atmosphere of Mars.

Curiosity Mastcam Left image acquired on Sol 1748, July 7, 2017.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

Curiosity is scheduled to drive away from the sand ripple to make some progress towards the next stop in the Vera Rubin Ridge imaging campaign before conjunction. Mastcam and Navcam will take standard post-drive imaging.

Battalio adds that two different dust devil surveys will be taken to attempt to observe any nearby convective vortices.

New road map

A new Curiosity traverse map through Sol 1748 has been released.

This map shows the route driven by NASA’s Mars rover Curiosity through the 1748 Martian day, or sol, of the rover’s mission on Mars (July 07, 2017).

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/University of Arizona

Numbering of the dots along the line indicate the sol number of each drive. North is up. The scale bar is 1 kilometer (~0.62 mile).


From Sol 1747 to Sol 1748, Curiosity had driven a straight line distance of about 18.09 feet (5.51 meters), bringing the rover’s total odometry for the mission to 10.52 miles (16.92 kilometers).

The base image from the map is from the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment Camera (HiRISE) in NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter.

Curiosity Front Hazcam Right B image taken on Sol 1748, July 7, 2017.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech




Now in Sol 1749, NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover has been scoping out sandy ripples in its workspace.

Curiosity Navcam Right B photo taken on Sol 1748, July 7, 2017.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Here are some new, just-in photos:

Curiosity Navcam Left B image acquired on Sol 1748, July 7, 2017.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Laser shots clearly observable in this ChemCam Remote Micro-Imager photo acquired on Sol 1748, July 7, 2017.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/LANL


Curiosity Mastcam Left image taken on Sol 1747, July 6, 2017.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

International Space Station.
Credit: NASA

A Chinese experiment flown onboard the International Space Station is back in Florida, fresh from its trek into Earth orbit.

The Beijing Institute of Technology experiment is aimed at studying the effects of the space radiation environment on DNA and the changes in mutation rate. It is the first-ever Chinese experiment flown to the orbiting complex.

“Everything went according to our plan,” notes Deng Yulin, who led the Chinese experiment. “All the data sent back looks good,” Deng told China’s Xinhua news agency early this week.

The Chinese experiment was brought to the space station under an agreement with Houston-based NanoRacks, which offers services for the commercial utilization of the orbiting complex.

NanoRacks Chief Executive Officer, Jeffrey Manber (right) signs contract to fly Chinese experiment onboard the International Space Station.
Credit: BIT

Roundtrip stats

Tucked inside the SpaceX CRS-11 Dragon supply ship, China’s experiment was launched on June 3, later linking up with the ISS, roughly 36 hours after liftoff. ISS astronauts conducted studies using the device with data sent back to the Chinese researchers.

Dragon returned to Earth on July 3 with more than 4,000 pounds (1,860 kilograms) of cargo, including the Chinese experiment.

The 8-pound (3.5 kilogram) experiment is keyed to answer questions about space radiation and microgravity-related mutations among antibody-encoding genes and how does it happen?

The Beijing Institute of Technology NanoLab remained confined to the NanoRacks platform on the ISS – and did not interface with the station or NASA’s IT infrastructure and systems. There was no transfer of technology between NASA and China.

Space Life Science Lab (SLSL) in Cape Canaveral, Florida.
Credit: Space Florida

Analyze the data

“The Beijing Institute of Technology NanoLab has been delivered to Space Life Science Lab (SLSL) in Cape Canaveral, Florida and all was nominal with the payload return,” reports Abby Dickes, Director of Marketing, Communications & Special Events for NanoRacks LLC.

Mary Murphy, NanoRacks senior Internal Payloads Manager (and the manager of the Beijing Institute of Technology (BIT) project) with Chinese space research team. The BIT NanoLab was officially checked out and handed over for launch at the Space Life Science Lab (SLSL) in Cape Canaveral, Florida. This handover occurred on the morning of May 31, 2017, prior to the June 3 SpaceX CRS-11 Dragon supply ship launch.
Credit: NanoRacks



The researchers from the Beijing Institute of Technology (BIT) are currently at the SLSL and will soon begin to analyze the data from their experiment,” Dickes told Inside Outer Space. “NanoRacks will be joining the BIT team on Sunday to commemorate the return.”

Curiosity Mastcam Left image taken on Sol 1746, July 5, 2017.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover is now busily at work carrying out Sol 1748 science tasks.

As reported by Ken Herkenhoff, a planetary geologist at the USGS in Flagstaff, Arizona, the current rover menu involves another touch-and-go given that there is bedrock in the robot’s arm workspace. So the tactical science team selected a block named “Tupper Ledge” for contact science.

Following Alpha Particle X-Ray Spectrometer (APXS) measurements of the elemental chemistry of Tupper Ledge and the Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) takes a full suite of images of the same target, Herkenhoff notes that the robot’s arm will be stowed to allow Chemistry and Camera (ChemCam) and Right Mastcam observations of a soil target called “No Man’s Land” and a bedrock target dubbed “Sugar Loaves.”

Curiosity Navcam Right B photo taken on Sol 1747, July 7, 2017.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Weekend ripple

Curiosity’s Navcam is slated to then search for clouds above the horizon and the Right Mastcam will snap a couple pictures of “Harris,” a trough in the dark sand.

A drive by Curiosity is scheduled to involve placing the crest of a sand ripple in Curiosity’s arm workspace to allow contact science on the ripple this weekend.

Curiosity Navcam Left B image acquired on Sol 1747, July 6, 2017.
Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech


Wheel scuff

“A wheel scuff of the ripple was added by the Rover Planners, which should allow the interior of the ripple to be observed,” Herkenhoff adds.

Curisoity Front Hazcam Right B image acquired on Sol 1747, July 6, 2017.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

After the drive and standard post-drive imaging by the rover, its Navcam will search for clouds overhead and the Dynamic Albedo of Neutrons (DAN) instrument will make another active measurement of hydrogen in the near-subsurface.

Credit: NASA/Aubrey Gemignani

1:25 P.M. EDT
Here is the official White House Transcript of U.S. Vice President Pence and chair of the newly renewed National Space Council, today at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

THE VICE PRESIDENT:  Hello, Florida!  (Applause.)

Senator Rubio, Senator Nelson, Congressman Posey, Congressman DeSantis, Attorney General Bondi, Commissioner Putnam, acting Administrator Lightfoot, Director Cabana, all the leaders of industry and business who are gathered here today, Dr. Buzz Aldrin — (applause) — and all the great men and women of NASA and the Kennedy Space Center, it is my great honor to be with you here today at the dawn of a new era of space exploration in the United States of America.  (Applause.)

And I bring greetings from the man who is going to make that happen, his admiration for all of you gathered here and for America’s storied history in space is boundless; and he is committed each and every day to American leadership at home, around the world, and in the boundless expanse of space, the 45th President of the United States of America, President Donald Trump.  (Applause.)

In his Inaugural Address, the President rededicated our nation to once again lead in the heavens, and in his words “unlock the mysteries of space.”

With this President, it’s always about leadership — American leadership.  And that begins at home, by putting the security and prosperity of America first.  Today, we will speak of this President’s vision for American leadership in space. But between those two spheres, in Warsaw, Poland today, we were reminded that the American President is the leader of the free world.  (Applause.)

American leadership

Today, President Trump stood in Krasinski Square in a rebuilt Warsaw, giving testament to the power of free peoples to assert their own destinies and claim their own futures.

The President noted in his words that as long we know our history we will know how to build a future, saying that Americans know that a strong alliance of free, sovereign, and independent nations is the best defense for our freedoms and our interests.

The President took the opportunity to challenge our allies to work together to confront forces that threaten over time to undermine those values and erase the bonds of culture, faith, and tradition that make us who we are.  And he called on all of our allies in the West to what he called a “commitment of will,” and he reminded us that the defense of the West ultimately rests in his words “not only on means but also on the will of our people to prevail.”

Finally, he reminded the world today that our own fight for the West does not begin on a battlefield, it begins with our minds, our wills, our souls, our freedom — and that our survival depends on the bonds of history, culture, and memory.

My fellow Americans, that’s what American leadership looks like on the world stage.  (Applause.)

Gateway to the stars

And today I come to assure you, the men and women of NASA, and all those at this Gateway to the Stars, where the aspirations of the American people have taken flight that under President Donald Trump America will lead in space once again.  (Applause.)

Just last week, President Trump declared that America is in his words “going to be leading” in exploration and discovery “like we’ve never led before.”  Welcome to a new era of American leadership in space.  (Applause.)

I can’t think of a better place to deliver this message than here at the Kennedy Space Center, named for a President who challenged America to undertake, as he said, “the most hazardous and dangerous and greatest adventure on which man has ever embarked.”

The Kennedy Space Center is the heart and soul of our nation’s space program, where science fiction has become science fact for generations.  Just this past Saturday, this center celebrated its 55th birthday.  And for 55 years, you have relentlessly expanded our horizons and given us so many national heroes.

Here, the crew of Apollo 11 set sail for the Sea of Tranquility on the moon.  Here, you launched America’s Space Shuttles and America’s astronauts to orbit this Blue Marble.  Here, the Hubble Space Telescope, the New Horizons, and so many other technological wonders lifted off from Earth to give us a glimpse of our fellow planets, the distant stars, and the infinite galaxies that are a window into our very past.

And from this “Bridge to Space,” our nation will return to the Moon, and we will put American boots on the face of Mars.  (Applause.)

Credit: ESA/NASA

Earth giving birth

My friends, the missions that began at the Kennedy Space Center are carved into the mantle of American greatness.  And more than that, they’re etched into the hearts and minds of the American people.

Generations of Americans have marveled at and been inspired by what you do here.  We’ve joined in your countdowns, rejoiced in your successes, and we’ve grieved with you in your sorrows — because the missions that start at the Kennedy Space Center have captivated the American people and carried our hopes and dreams into the heavens as almost no other national initiative.

I caught a passion for the space program when I was just a little boy in a small town in Southern Indiana.  Some of the most precious memories of my youth were gathered around a black-and-white television, watching images of American heroes making history.

As a member of Congress, I asked to serve on the NASA subcommittee, and I had the privilege, along with my wife and children, to attend several space shuttle launches.

I really have no doubt that my son, who is now a Marine Corps aviator, was inspired to serve as a 10-year-old boy when we sat in the grandstands here at the Kennedy Space Center and watched in awe as America’s heroic astronauts hurtled into space.

I said at the time, that to see the sights and sounds of a launch at here Cape Canaveral was like seeing the Earth giving birth to a piece of the sun and sending it home.

And you’re the ones who make it possible.  So give yourselves a round of applause for making miracles happen, for making science fiction, science fact here at the Kennedy Space Center. (Applause.)

Credit: Bob Sauls – XP4D/Explore Mars, Inc. (used with permission)

Make new history

The truth is that your work breaks new ground and breaks records in equal measure.  And serving each and every day with this President, I can say with confidence:  The American space program has a champion in the President of the United States.  (Applause.)

President Trump has a deep appreciation for the vital work that NASA does each and every day.  That was on full display earlier this year when in the Oval Office President Trump signed the first NASA reauthorization act in more than seven years.  (Applause.)

Surrounded by many of these same members of Congress who join us here today, after the bill’s signing, President Trump renewed our nation’s commitment to, in his words “NASA’s mission of exploration and discovery” — because he knows that every day, the men and women of NASA inspire the American people and enrich the American spirit.

President Donald Trump is already ensuring that NASA has the resources and support you need to make new history from this place; inspire new generations and advance American leadership in the boundless frontier of space — of that you can be assured.

Allow me just to take a moment to single out Senator Rubio and Senator Nelson and all the distinguished members of Congress who are here with us today.  Would you all mind standing and allowing everyone here to show our appreciation for the great champions of human exploration in space that all of you are?  Please rise, and give these leaders in the House and in the United States Senate a big round of applause, would you, please?  (Applause.)  Thank you so much.

President Trump’s vision for space, though, is much larger than NASA alone.  Our President is transforming our entire space policy to seize the opportunities of the 21st century and unleash the infinite potential of the cosmos for the American people.

U.S. President Trump signing brings back the National Space Council.
Credit: White House

Up and running

Extending our nation’s leadership in space is one of the greatest challenges of our day.  And just as we have risen to the challenges that came before, so too we will rise to meet the new challenges that lie ahead.

That’s why just last Friday, President Donald Trump signed an executive order to relaunch the National Space Council and guide a new era of space leadership by the United States of America.  (Applause.)

After being dormant since 1993, I’m proud to report that the National Space Council is up and running once again.  And it will be my great honor, as Vice President of the United States, to serve as its chair.  (Applause.)

As the President said last week, the National Space Council, in his words, “will be a central hub guiding space policy within the administration,” filling a void that’s existed in America for nearly a quarter-century.

This is actually the third iteration of the National Space Council.  American Presidents from Eisenhower to Kennedy, Johnson to Nixon to George H.W. Bush all turned to the National Space Council for assistance and advice.

It was under the first National Space Council’s watch that America put a man in space, put a man on the moon — and with less than a decade between them.  And the second council saw our nation through the close of the Cold War, as space became ever more important to our national security.

Reenergize pioneering spirit

As you men and women of NASA know, the American people have never lost our passion to explore space and uncover its secrets.  But for nearly 25 years, our government’s commitment seems to have not matched the spirit American people.  But I’m here to tell you that as we still enter this new century, we will beat back any disadvantage that our lack of attention has placed, and America will once again lead in space for the benefit and the security of all our people and all of the world.  (Applause.)

Our National Space Council will reenergize our pioneering spirit in space.  It will restore our confidence and the confidence that we can and will achieve the impossible — just like you all here at NASA have done so many times in the course of my life.  It will ensure that America once again takes our rightful place as the vanguard of humanity’s historic rendezvous with the future in the outer limits of space.

The council will bring together leaders from the President’s administration including our Secretaries of State, Defense, Commerce, Transportation, and Homeland Security, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, our National Security Advisor, our intelligence leadership, and the NASA Administrator.  And I look forward to holding the first meeting of the National Space Council before the summer is out.  (Applause.)

President Trump has given the Council the duty in his words to “advise and assist” his administration regarding national space policy and strategy, and we’ll be busy doing just that.

We’ll review our current policy and our long-range goals and coordinate national space activities — from national security to commerce to exploration and beyond.

And crucially, at the President’s direction, we will, in his words, foster close coordination, cooperation, technology and information exchange among all the stakeholders and sectors involved in space activity — including government agencies, the armed forces, and leaders from the realms of private industry and the academic world.  We will bring the best of America together once again to lead with Americans in space.  (Applause.)

Rocketeer Jeff Bezos and his commercial rocket firm, Blue Origin.
Credit: Blue Origin

User advisory group

As the President said last week, the National Space Council intends to draw on the expertise and insights of scientists, innovators, and business leaders in a whole new way.

These leaders, whom the President and I will be naming in the coming weeks, will form a User Advisory Group.  And I know with confidence that their work will dramatically enhance our space policy in the days ahead just as it has in the past.

I’m particularly excited to see the increased collaboration with our burgeoning commercial space industry so much in evidence here at the Kennedy Space Center.  I’m really sorry that I missed the successful commercial launch that took place last night.  I was praying for rain at the Kennedy Space Center so we might see that rocket go up today.

But the truth is we’re going to continue to foster stronger partnerships between government agencies and innovative industries across this country because both have so much to offer one another.

In fact, Kennedy Space Center is proof that public and private sectors can achieve more by working together than they could ever achieve apart.  This center is today the world’s premier multi-use spaceport, and that truth will only continue to grow.  (Applause.)

In conjunction with our commercial partners, we’ll continue to make space travel safer, cheaper, and more accessible than ever before.

The truth is that American business is on the cutting edge of space technology.  And under President Trump’s leadership, and with the guidance of the National Space Council, we’ll tap into the limitless well of American innovation because there is no problem the American people can’t solve, no barrier we can’t break down, no objective we can’t achieve when we bring the full force of our national interest and creativity to bear.

Settle that frontier

The American spirit is as limitless as space itself.  And so we will bring that spirit fully to bear on the trials that lie ahead.  If we can dream it, we can do it.  And under President Trump, we will achieve more in space than we ever thought possible.

President Trump observed just last week, “the human soul yearns for discovery,” and I would say that’s especially true for those of us who have the privilege to call ourselves Americans.  Under President Donald Trump’s leadership, we will reorient America’s space program toward human space exploration and discovery for the benefit of the American people and all of the world.  (Applause.)

We will return our nation to the moon.  We will go to Mars, and we will go still further to places that our children’s children can only imagine.

We will maintain a constant presence in low-Earth orbit, and we will develop policies that will carry human space exploration across our solar system and ultimately into the vast expanse of space.

As the President has said, space is in his words the “next great American frontier.”  And like the pioneers that came before us, we will settle that frontier with American leadership, American courage, and American ingenuity.

As we once again lead in space exploration, we will continue to make the investments and presence in space to ensure the safety and security of the American people.  Space is vital to our national security.  I saw it firsthand when I visited Schriever Air Force Base just a few weeks ago.  And I can assure you, under President Donald Trump, American security will be as dominant in the heavens as we are here on Earth.  (Applause.)

The tasks that lie before us requires the highest levels of courage, commitment, and dedication.  The challenges will be difficult.  But difficulty brings out America’s best, and America’s best can’t be beaten by anybody at any time.

Get back to winning

Some 55 years ago, the namesake of this base, President John F. Kennedy, declared that America would put a man on the moon before the decade was out, a feat unlike any imagined in human history.

As he said at the time, we were willing to accept the challenge, and unwilling to postpone it, and that challenge is one in his words — “one which we intend to win.”   And with your forbearers here at the Kennedy Space Center and Houston and all across NASA, we did win the race to the moon.  (Applause.)

We won the race a half-century ago, and now we will get back to wining in the 21st century and beyond.

Under the leadership of President Donald Trump and with the guidance of the National Space Council, the United States of America will usher in a new era of space leadership that will benefit every facet of our national life.

We will strengthen our economy.  We will unlock new opportunities, new technologies, and new sources of prosperity.  We will inspire our children to seek education in science, technology, engineering, and math.  We’ll enhance our common defense and advance the security of the American people.

But most of all, under President Trump’s leadership, we will renew the American spirit itself.

I know in my heart that today the heavens are closer than ever before.   We’re restarting a journey that will take us to new heights of knowledge, new heights of accomplishment.  And above all, I know with confidence that we will reach those new heights of American leadership with American values and American ingenuity.

As President Trump said last week in his words, “It is America’s destiny to be the leader amongst nations on our adventure into the great unknown.”

And with the National Space Council, we will grab that destiny with both hands and go to work with each and every one of you.

Future beckons

So let us go forth and start this new chapter of that adventure.  Let us have the courage and the confidence that’s always defined who we are as Americans.  And let us do what our nation has always done since its very founding and beyond:  We’ve pushed the boundaries on frontiers, not just of territory but of knowledge.  We’ve blazed new trails, and we’ve astonished the world as we’ve boldly grasped our future without fear.

And as we go, let us have faith — faith that as we enter this new era of exploration and discovery, that this rising generation of American explorers and innovators will once again deliver on the hopes and aspirations of our people just like you’ve done before.

Credit: ESA/Hubble & NASA

And as this new generation of astronauts suits up, let them have the faith that they do so surrounded by the prayers of the American people with the absolute assurance that as they rocket into the heavens, they do not go alone.

For as the Psalmist teaches us, if we rise on the wings of the dawn, if we go up to the heavens, even there His hand will guide us, and His right hand will hold us fast.

My friends, the future beckons — and so do the furthest depths of space.  Together, as one nation and one people, we will raise our eyes to gaze with wonder at the stars and once again renew our commitment to reach out our hands and touch the heavens.

With confidence in all of you and with confidence in the strong vision and leadership of President Donald Trump, I know America will lead in space once again.

Thank you.  God bless you and God bless the United States of America.  (Applause.)

1:46 P.M. EDT