74 – Transcript of the October 5, 2017 meeting of the National Space Council

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104. VICE PRESIDENT PENCE [2:17:47]: Thank you, Pat. Very thoughtful. And would you all join me in thanking this extraordinary group of Americans for that presentation today. Thank you all.

This obviously has been an enormously important discussion for our country and one that we will continue on the National Space Council in appropriate settings. I’m grateful for the panelists for their time and I want to commend members of the council for your thoughtful participation in this panel and in the previous panels.

General McMaster, the President’s national security adviser, you and your team that working on guiding interagency development of this the space strategic framework. I wondered if you would offer a few thoughts—perhaps an unclassified an overview on the status of those efforts.

105. GENERAL MCMASTER [2:18:46] Thank you, Mr. Vice President, and thanks to everyone who came today and, especially, to those around the table who we’ve been working with over the past several months to develop the space strategic framework—a framework that I think will be valuable as we continue this discussion, as we learn from the expertise that’s here today and even beyond this room. So, as Marillyn Hewson mentioned on the first panel, Mr. Vice President, the pace of technology is increasing and what we see is a combination of greater counter-space threats, and a greater demand for space services, rapidly expanding commercial industry, and untapped potential of space exploration. All of this is calling for an integrated strategy to ensure that the United States’ vital interests are advanced.

So much of the strategic framework is classified, Mr. Vice President, but what I’ll do today is highlight some of the key elements, very quickly, that are unclassified. And what I’d like to do is really discuss four, four key elements of the strategy.

First, our strategic framework seeks to ensure U.S. leadership, preeminence, and freedom-of-action in space, and, I think, based on the discussion today, will actually emphasize across all domains more in the document as well. But, to ensure that preeminence for decades to come.

Second, while the strategic framework promotes an America-first approach, it is consistent with what the panelists have said and what you have said many times, Mr. Vice President, that America-first doesn’t mean America alone. To the contrary, we will secure the benefits of space, not only for ourselves, but for and with our friends and allies as an essential part of this of this framework.

Third, the framework defines our vital interests in space—and again we may modify this about how space relates to vital interests and other domains as well, based on Dr. Griffin’s and other emphasis on the cross-domain aspects—but we want to ensure unfettered access to and freedom to operate in the space domain; to advance the security, economic prosperity, and scientific knowledge of the nation. And I think that parallels really the composition of the three panels today.

And, then, fourth, as Dennis Muilenburg mentioned, the framework also outlines four primary objectives in pursuit of our vital interests. This is the beginning of an integrated strategy to guard against what Admiral Ellis said is, you know, we don’t want this strategic vacuum. These are the four objectives:

First, to strengthen the safety, stability, and sustainability of space activities. I think, based on Dr. Griffin’s comments, we might add “resilience” there as well.

Second, to deter and, when necessary, defeat adversaries’ space and counter-space threats that are hostile to the national interests of the United States and our allies. We may not start it, again, but we’ll finish it, will be the last.

Consistent with what we’ve heard from the great panelists today, we will, as a third objective, partner with the U.S. commercial sector to ensure that American companies remain the leading providers of traditional and innovative space technologies, goods and services on the international space market.

And, then, fourth, the fourth objective to maintain and extend U.S. human presence and robotic explorations beyond Earth to transform knowledge of ourselves, our planet, our solar system, and the universe.

And, so, with your concurrence, Mr. Vice President, once you’re able to review this, what we will do, with your approval, is we will now begin to flesh out the strategic framework. We’ll identify and we’ll do this collaboratively with those who are here today and beyond; we’ll identify the specific tasks, the resources, and the authorities required; we’ll identify measures of effectiveness; and, we’ll do a periodic assessment of what we’re doing. We’re going to move out, Mr. Vice President, and, as Admiral Ellis has said, as Colonel McIlroy said, we have to emphasize with speed and move out quickly.

Thank you, Mr. Vice President.

106. VICE PRESIDENT PENCE [2:23:17]: Well, thank you, General. And, if there is no further comment from members of the council regarding the strategy that General McMaster outlined, and hearing none, I would simply direct you to continue to work with other members of the Council to develop an implementation plan for that framework over the next 45 days for presentation to President Trump for his approval. So, we’ll proceed on that basis, General. Thank you, very much.

We are at the end of this first meeting of the National Space Council. I want to thank each of the members of the council and your staffs for what has been an enlightening and engaging dialogue and from where I’m sitting—and I trust where the President is sitting—a very good start on a new beginning for the National Space Council; and for the development of renewed American energy in space exploration, both in the area of civil space exploration, commercial space exploration, and, of course, our presence in space that contributes to our national security.

Also, I want to thank our staff in particular, and you could stand while I say your name—Daris Meeks, who is our policy director; Scott Pace who is leading the National Space Council; Jared Stout and the team. Thank you for pulling together a very successful day. I’m very pleased. Good job, guys.

Lastly, to be brief, to my fellow council members, you have your marching orders. Let’s work on a 45-day timeframe for turning around recommendations and proposals to the President based upon this first meeting of the National Space Council.

I think today we proved that many of the best ideas that will shape American space policy will come from outside the halls of government. And I can assure all of those present that we’re going to continue to avail ourselves of the very best and brightest American minds as we develop policies for presentation to President Trump.

I’m pleased to report in that vein that very soon, the President has directed us to re-launch the National Space Council’s Advisory Group to foster close coordination, cooperation, and technology information.

This group will bring together a broad range of truly exceptional Americans—men and women who are committed to advancing and renewing American leadership in space.

In the days ahead, NASA will enter a notice into the Federal Register to kick off the process of recruiting candidates for the group. And the President will make a selection, based on the recommendations of the National Space Council, for who is appointed to that. And we encourage any citizens who have an interest to avail yourself of the opportunity to express that interest going forward.

The members will all be private citizens, but their work for this council will be of the highest public service.

So, I think we heard many themes today. I won’t take any more of people’s time other another than to say thank you. Thank you to all of our—can we give another round of applause to the distinguished panels that presented today.

We’re grateful for your time, grateful for and inspired by your words and your leadership. I’m grateful for members of the National Space Council, Cabinet members who are here. Thank you for making this a priority. We got a lot of work to do, but as the President said in his Inaugural Address, “In America, we understand that a nation is only living as long as it is striving.”

And with the President’s strong leadership, with the participation of this council, with the support of many distinguished Americans, I’m confident America will lead in space again.

Thank you very much and God bless you.

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