Credit: White House TV/Screengrab

In remarks today before the third meeting of the National Space Council, U.S. President Donald Trump called for “reclaiming America’s heritage as the world’s greatest space-faring nation,” the President said.

“The essence of the American character,” Trump added, “is to explore new horizons and to tame new frontiers.  But our destiny, beyond the Earth, is not only a matter of national identity, but a matter of national security.”

In that regard, Trump directed the Department of Defense and Pentagon “to immediately begin the process necessary to establish a space force as the sixth branch of the armed forces. That’s a big statement,” Trump emphasized. “We are going to have the Air Force and we are going to have the Space Force — separate but equal.”

The Moon and Mars. as seen from the International Space Station.
Credit: NASA/ESA

Moon return

Regarding the President’s time table for returning humans to the Moon, Trump advised: “This time, we will do more than plant our flag and leave our footprints.  We will establish a long-term presence, expand our economy, and build the foundation for the eventual mission to Mars — which is actually going to happen very quickly.”

Trump also said that when it comes to space, “too often, for too many years, our dreams of exploration and discovery were really squandered by politics and bureaucracy, and we knocked that out.

Earth orbit is a junkyard of human-made space clutter.
Credit: Space Junk 3D, LLC. Melrae Pictures

Dealing with debris

President Donald J. Trump signed Space Policy Directive – 3 today directing the United States to lead the management of traffic and mitigate the effects of debris in space.

Space Policy Directive – 3 provides guidelines and direction to ensure that the United States is a leader in providing a safe and secure environment as commercial and civil space traffic increases.

As space becomes increasingly contested, the demand for the Department of Defense to focus on protecting U.S. space assets and interests also increases.

At the same time, the rapid commercialization of space requires a traffic management framework that protects U.S. interests and considers the private sector’s needs.

The new Directive seeks to reduce the growing threat of orbital debris to the common interest of all nations.

Setting guidelines

The Directive articulates the policy of the United States to pursue and utilize both Government and commercial sector technologies to track and monitor space debris.

The Directive requires updates to the U.S. Orbital Debris Mitigation Standard Practices and new guidelines for satellite design and operation.

The new Directive sets guidelines for the United States to manage space traffic more effectively by spearheading new data sharing initiatives.

The United States should continue to provide basic space situational awareness data and basic space traffic management services free of direct user fees.

The Department of Commerce will make space safety data and services available to the public, while the Department of Defense maintains the authoritative catalogue of space objects.

The United States will maintain and expand its leadership in space by increasing its capabilities and developing standards and best practices.

This effort will:

Improve space situational awareness data standards and information sharing;

Leverage U.S. standards and best practices to shape international norms; and

Streamline processes and reduce regulatory burdens that inhibit commercial growth, enabling the U.S. commercial sector to lead the world in space.

U.S. President Donald Trump holds up the Space Policy Directive – 1 after signing it, directing NASA to return to the Moon, alongside members of the Senate, Congress, NASA, and commercial space companies in the Roosevelt room of the White House in Washington, Monday, Dec. 11, 2017.
Credit: NASA/Aubrey Gemignani

Space directives

The new Space Policy Directive builds on the President’s efforts to reinstate the United States leadership role in space.

On June 30, 2017, President Trump signed an Executive Order reviving the National Space Council for the first time in 24 years.

On December 11, 2017, the President signed Space Policy Directive – 1, instructing NASA to return United States astronauts to the Moon, followed by human missions to Mars.

On March 23, 2018, President Trump unveiled a National Space Strategy that laid out an approach to ensuring that the United States is strong and competitive in the space environment.

On May 24, 2018, the President signed Space Policy Directive – 2 to reform United States commercial space regulatory framework, seeking to ensure our place as a leader in space commerce.


For more information on today’s White House space happenings, go to:

Remarks by President Trump at a Meeting with the National Space Council and Signing of Space Policy Directive-3

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Opening Remarks by Vice President Pence at Meeting of the National Space Council

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