The first meeting of the newly reconstituted National Space Council (NSC) took place today.
The NSC originally was established when NASA was formed in 1958 and is led by the Vice President. The intention of the council is to set and coordinate all space-related policy for the government. Its existence has waxed and waned through the years, but was returned to service with the inauguration of President Trump.
The main news from today's meeting at the National Air and Space Museum's Udvar-Hazy Annex in Virginia is that it is the intention of the Trump Administration to more narrowly focus NASA on specific human spaceflight exploration goals, which include abandoning any asteroid-rendezvous missions in favor of establishing a long-term human presence on the Moon.
It would seem that, chronologically, the plan would be to deal with cis-lunar space first, then establish a presence on the Moon, and then use that experience to continue on to Mars. Unmanned exploration of the Solar System would continue, although I didn't pick up on any specific priorities changing -- no "we must send a submarine to Europa" kind of proclamation.
NASA will be directed to continue working with and involving private industry in accomplishing these goals, especially in Earth orbit as commercial space transportation for U.S. astronauts becomes a reality.
Remember, this is all policy talk. There were no specific discussion or direction in terms of the hardware and methods -- the architecture -- that would be required to accomplish. Nor was there any specific discussion on exactly how much this would cost.
That said, NASA in its official statement did say that SLS and Orion is being developed to enable these mission goals.
Here is a link to Vice President Pence's opening and closing remarks at today's meeting:
Here is a link to a statement from acting NASA Administrator Robert Lightfoot about the results from the first meeting of the National Space Council on Thursday.
-- Jim Banke