By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
Vice President Mike Pence appointed Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey to the National Space Council’s Users Advisory Group Wednesday after her nomination by U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Alabama.
NASA recently established the Users Advisory Group to advise and inform the National Space Council on a broad range of aerospace topics, including the impacts of U.S. and international laws and regulations, national security space priorities relating to the civil and commercial space sectors, scientific and human space exploration priorities, and ways to bolster support for U.S. space priorities and leadership in space.
“Alabama has a rich history in aerospace and with the renewed commitment to space exploration, we are poised to greatly benefit from and contribute to public and private efforts moving forward,” Ivey said. “I look forward to serving in this group with pioneers of space flight, key industry leaders, astronauts and other esteemed members. I thank Senator Shelby for his nomination and Vice President Pence for appointing me to this distinguished group.”
Members of the UAG were announced today by Pence during a meeting of the National Space Council. At the first meeting of the National Space Council, the vice president described why the Advisory Group is an important component of the National Space Council.
“The President has directed us to relaunch the National Space Council’s advisory group to foster close coordination, cooperation, technology information,” Vice President Pence said. “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.”
The National Space Council was created during President Dwight Eisenhower’s administration, with the aim of making sure there was someone close to the president to coordinate national policy on space. It would eventually include the NASA administrator, Cabinet secretaries, other officials and heads of private industry.
Ivey joins other notable appointees, including Apollo 11 Astronaut Buzz Aldrin, former Speaker of House Newt Gingrich, Lockheed Martin CEO Marillyn Hewson, and CEO of SpaceX Gwynne Shotwell.
Monday marked the 60th anniversary of Sputnik, the 184-pound first satellite that launched the space race.
“On that day, six decades ago yesterday, the race for space began, and the then-Soviet Union took an early lead,” Pence told the Space Council. “But the sight of that light blinking across that October sky spurred America to action. We refused to accept a future in space written by the enemies of freedom, and so the United States of America vowed to claim our rightful place as the undisputed leader in the exploration of the heavens. And 12 years later, with “one giant leap for mankind,” America led in space. But more than half a century later, we have ceded ground. So we gather here today to renew this same mission in our time. By reviving the National Space Council, President Donald Trump has declared to all of the world: America will lead in space once again.”
Pence also spoke about the decline of intetest in space exploration.
“America seems to have lost our edge in space — and those days are over. The American people have never lost our passion to explore space and uncover its secrets, this summer, I visited the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral and the Johnson Space Center in Houston, where I met with the men and women of NASA — including, as the general said, the newest class of astronauts. They still embody — as generations did before, they embody the courage and excellence that has long inspired the American people. For too long our government’s commitment has failed to match our people’s spirit and meet our nation’s needs. The truth is that America entered this new millennium without a coherent policy, a coherent vision for outer space. And in the absence of American leadership, other nations have seized the opportunity to stake their claim in the infinite frontier. Rather than lead in space, too often, we have chosen to drift. And, as we learned 60 years ago, when we drift, we fall behind.”
Pence also spoke about America’s lack of a ship to send astronauts into space.
“In the meantime, we agreed to pay Russia to hitch a ride on their rockets to the International Space Station,” Pence said. “But four years turned into five, and five years turned into six, and here we are, in 2017, still relying on the Russians to ferry our astronauts to the International Space Station — at a cost-per-seat that now stands at more than $76 million. Rather than competing with other nations to create the best space technology, the previous administration chose capitulation. According to the U.S. intelligence community, Russia and China are pursuing a full range of anti-satellite technology to reduce U.S. military effectiveness, and they are increasingly considering attacks against satellite systems as part of their future warfare doctrine.”
“Under the President’s leadership, we will restore our proud legacy of leadership on this next, great frontier, and America will lead again,” Pence said ending his speech.