Dazzling and breathtaking movement is afoot in the newly reconstituted National Space Agency. The past twenty-four months have seen a renaissance of the American space program with vision cast by President Trump and now, under the capable leadership of Vice President Mike Pence as chairman, to once again be the global leader in human space exploration.
On Oct. 5, 2017, the National Space Council convened for the first meeting in a quarter of a century. It was hosted by the Smithsonian Institution in Washington DC. Since that meeting, remarkable cooperation and coordination between the Department’s of Transportation, Commerce, Defense and Energy, NASA with its revitalized leadership under Jim Bridenstine, our civil, military and commercial partners, have charted the course for this exciting new chapter in mankind’s history-the goal of returning human astronauts to the moon in 2024.
NASA shortly thereafter, will then be establishing the lunar outpost Gateway, with its focus to support deep space exploration, and landing human astronauts on the red sands of Mars.
The “Artemis Project”, recently named, (she is the twin sister of Apollo from Greek mythology) isn’t merely a repeat of the 1960’s lunar missions that set American astronauts on the moon. The cornerstones of the National Space Council’s vision are:
Space Policy Directive One charts the course for sustainable missions beyond low Earth orbit, “which include the return of humans to the Moon for long term exploration and utilization, followed by human missions to Mars and other destinations”.
Space Policy Directive Two sets the framework for streamlining regulations on the commercial use of space. Specific provisions include simplifying outdated launch and re-entry licenses, protecting radio frequencies, and ensuring entrepreneurial commercial space activities a regulatory environment in which to prosper unencumbered.
Space Policy Directive Three sets up a Space Traffic Management Policy which includes the mapping of space debris that imperils commercial and satellite machinery and a registry of these flying derelicts.
Space Policy Directive Four stands up the sixth branch of the Armed Forces-the U.S. Space Force.
These four directives will support and guide the global policy architecture that commercially develops low Earth orbit, which then frees up taxpayer dollars to provide the resources for the establishment of a lunar industrial complex and space exploratory projects.
While the energetic, constructive activities are exciting, counter efforts by the enemies of freedom are growing unabated, putting our national security at risk. Both China and Russia have invested heavily in their own space programs and are weaponizing their space capabilities. One has only to consider the effects of Communist control in any arena to understand the threat this poses to our national and the world’s security.
President Trump and Vice President Pence are leading, along with international global alliances to foster a foundation of peace through strength and establish the rule of law in space. American leadership has lagged in this area the past several decades, but those days are behind and on the horizon lies the day when we will once again, have “Boots on the Moon.”