The Washington Post's President Trump relaunches the National Space Council, and Quartz's Donald Trump’s new National Space Council is already baffling the space industry present the news that the US president has "re-activated" the US National Space Council.

Question: What is/will be the function of the United States National Space Council?

Will it have an advisory capacity on NASA's science missions for example, or commercial satellite constellations, bandwidth allocations, space junk clean-up, etc?

For that matter, what was it's function when it was active?

below: US former astronaut Buzz Aldrin and Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross listen to the announcement. The NASA Administrator, and the Director of Office of Science and Technology Policy were not present because the positions have yet to be filled. From here. (Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images)

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edit: See also the next day's WP's Speaking of Science: ‘It has to be something, but it could be infinity’: Trump ponders space in strange ceremony for additional details/reporting.

  • $\begingroup$ No shenanigans please. I'm looking for an understanding of the function of the National Space Council, both its function in the past and as much as can be surmised about its future role. Granted a complete answer may not be available by googling or Wikipedia, but let's see what is known, and what else is plausible/probable. $\endgroup$
    – uhoh
    Commented Jul 1, 2017 at 18:29
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    $\begingroup$ Bridenstine has been talking about what he wants a space council to do: spacenews.com/… $\endgroup$
    – HopDavid
    Commented Jul 2, 2017 at 0:08
  • $\begingroup$ @HopDavid thank you for that link, that's quite a densely packed video! I'm learning a lot by stopping every five minutes and searching/reading about something more I hadn't known about before. Just curious, I don't recognize the flag seen on the right side of the podium. It doesn't resemble the WSPR logo, do you know what it is? $\endgroup$
    – uhoh
    Commented Jul 2, 2017 at 2:44
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    $\begingroup$ Aldrin's reaction upon being called the 2nd man on the moon was hilarious. $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 2, 2017 at 16:01
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Background: President Trump formed a national space council. Now it needs a NASA administrator (Planetary Society blog, 3 July 2017) $\endgroup$
    – user10509
    Commented Jul 8, 2017 at 17:38

1 Answer 1


We can look at the Executive Order that established it in the first place for the definitive answer. Section 2 has been highlighted.

By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and laws of the United States of America, and in order to provide a coordinated process for developing a national space policy and strategy and for monitoring its implementation, it is hereby ordered as follows:

Section 1. Establishment and Composition of the National Space Council.

(a) There is established the National Space Council ("the Council").

(b) The Council shall be composed of the following members:

(1) The Vice President, who shall be Chairman of the Council;

(2) The Secretary of State;

(3) The Secretary of the Treasury;

(4) The Secretary of Defense;

(5) The Secretary of Commerce;

(6) The Secretary of Transportation;

(7) The Director of the Office of Management and Budget;

(8) The Chief of Staff to the President;

(9) The Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs;

(10) The Assistant to the President for Science and Technology;

(11) The Director of Central Intelligence; and

(12) The Administrator of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

(c) The Chairman shall, from time to time, invite the following to participate in meetings of the Council:

(1) The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; and

(2) The heads of other executive departments and agencies and other senior officials in the Executive Office of the President.

While there are several other activities described later on, perhaps the core function of the council is described in Section 2 (highlighted here in bold):

Sec. 2. Functions of the Council. (a) The Council shall advise and assist the President on national space policy and strategy, and perform such other duties as the President may from time to time prescribe.

(b) In addition, the Council is directed to:

(1) review United States Government space policy, including long-range goals, and develop a strategy for national space activities;

(2) develop recommendations for the President on space policy and space- related issues;

(3) monitor and coordinate implementation of the objectives of the President's national space policy by executive departments and agencies; and

(4) foster close coordination, cooperation, and technology and information exchange among the civil, national security, and commercial space sectors, and facilitate resolution of differences concerning major space and space-related policy issues.

(c) The creation and operation of the Council shall not interfere with existing lines of authority and responsibilities in the departments and agencies.

Sec. 3. Responsibilities of the Chairman. (a) The Chairman shall serve as the President's principal advisor on national space policy and strategy.

(b) The Chairman shall, in consultation with the members of the Council, establish procedures for the Council and establish the agenda for Council activities.

(c) The Chairman shall report to the President on the activities and recommendations of the Council. The Chairman shall advise the Council as appropriate regarding the President's directions with respect to the Council's activities and national space policy generally.

(d) The Chairman shall authorize the establishment of such committees of the Co uncil, including an executive committee, and of such working groups, composed o f senior designees of the Council members and of other officials invited to par ticipate in Council meetings, as he deems necessary or appropriate for the effi cient conduct of Council functions.

Sec. 4. National Space Policy Planning Process. (a) The Council will establish a process for developing and monitoring the implementation of national space policy and strategy.

(b) To implement this process, each agency represented on the Council shall provide such information regarding its current and planned space activities as the Chairman shall request.

(c) The head of each executive department and agency shall ensure that its space-related activities conform to national space policy and strategy.

Sec. 5. Establishment of Vice President's Space Policy Advisory Board. (a) The Vice President shall establish, in accordance with the provisions of the Federal Advisory Committee Act, as amended (5 U.S.C. App. 2), governing Presidential advisory committees, an advisory committee of private citizens to advise the Vice President on the space policy of the United States ("the Board").

(b) The Board shall be composed and function as follows:

(1) The Board shall be composed of members appointed by the Vice President.

(2) The Vice President shall designate a Chairman from among the members of the Board. The Executive Secretary of the National Space Council shall serve as the Secretary to the Board.

(3) Members of the Board shall serve without any compensation for their work on the Board. However, they shall be entitled to travel expenses, including per diem in lieu of subsistence, as authorized by law, for persons serving intermittently in the Government service (5 U.S.C. 5701-5707), to the extent funds are available for that purpose.

(4) Necessary expenses of the Board shall be paid from funds available for the expenses of the National Space Council.

(5) Notwithstanding the provisions of any other Executive order, the responsibilities of the President under the Federal Advisory Committee Act, as amended, except that of reporting annually to the Congress, which are applicable to the Board established by this order, shall be performed on a reimbursable basis by the Director of the Office of Administration in the Executive Office of the President, in accordance with the guidelines and procedures established by the Administrator of General Services.

Sec. 6. Microgravity Research Board. Section 1(c) of Executive Order No. 12660 is amended by deleting "Economic Policy Council" and inserting in lieu thereof "National Space Council." Sec. 7. Administrative Provisions. (a) The Office of Administration in the Executive Office of the President shall provide the Council with such administrative support on a reimbursable basis as may be necessary for the performance of the functions of the Council.

(b) The President shall appoint an Executive Secretary who shall appoint such staff as may be necessary to assist in the performance of the Council's functions.

(c) All Federal departments, agencies, and interagency councils and committees having an impact on space policy shall extend, as appropriate, such cooperation and assistance to the Council as is necessary to carry out its responsibilities under this order.

(d) The head of each agency serving on the Council or represented on any working group or committee of the Council shall provide such administrative support as may be necessary, in accordance with law and subject to the availability of appropriations, to enable the agency head or its representative to carry out his responsibilities.

Sec. 8. Report. The Council shall submit an annual report setting forth its assessment of and recommendations for the space policy and strategy of the United States Government.



  • $\begingroup$ This is really useful information, but they've been careful to keep the definitions very broad and nonspecific. For example, Section 4, a) "The Council will establish a process for developing and monitoring the implementation of national space policy and strategy." That process could be just Have quarterly meetings and read quarterly reports or it could be far more active. I'll read it again in the morning. Thanks! $\endgroup$
    – uhoh
    Commented Jul 1, 2017 at 18:55
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    $\begingroup$ Bureaucrats hate to be tied down to specific goals, ya know. $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 1, 2017 at 18:57
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    $\begingroup$ Out of this thousand-word proclamation, I've found the 10% that seem to do the best job of addressing the question, so I've highlighted Section 2, subsections a and b. I think this makes the answer a lot more accessible to readers who might really want to have an idea what the Council's function might be. You're welcome to roll back of course but I think this helps. $\endgroup$
    – uhoh
    Commented Jul 2, 2017 at 15:58

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