The US National Space Council is back and is focusing on security

Wednesday morning, Vice President Kamala Harris chaired the inaugural meeting of the Biden Administration’s National Space Council, at which she and other political leaders outlined their priorities for the future of civilian, commercial and military space activities. She is the first woman and the first colored man to lead such a meeting, which is traditionally led by the vice president. Although Harris has considerable experience in foreign policy, this is her first major foray into space policy.

“As our space exploration takes us to the moon, Mars and the edge of our solar system, I believe we also have a responsibility to look to our home planet,” Harris said at a meeting at the United States Institute. of Peace in Washington, DC, and was broadcast online. She was introduced by Senator and former Arizona astronaut Mark Kelly, who said “space exploration has the incredible ability to inspire future generations”, citing his own inspiration from Neil and Buzz.

The National Space Council aims to coordinate policies and priorities in a number of government agencies that deal with everything from space observations to launches, communications and security. Former President George W. Bush established the original board in 1989, which was chaired by his vice president, Dan Quayle. The organization was then disbanded in 1993. Former President Donald Trump revived the council in 2017, and then-Vice President Mike Pence led it for a series of eight meetings. In March, President Biden’s national security advisers announced that the administration would revive the council.

The meeting brought together leaders from more than a dozen federal agencies and includes advisers from the space industry and the military. In connection with the meeting, President Biden signed an executive order to add five new members to the council: the secretaries of education, labor, agriculture and home affairs, and the national climate adviser. The additions are intended to ensure that the benefits of US space activities are widely applied in society, Harris said.

Harris also announced the release of the US Space Priorities Framework, which outlines the goals of the Biden administration. It seems to support a number of policies from the previous administration: funding for the lunar program known as Artemis; construction of the military branch of the space forces; intensifying competition with space rivals China and Russia; investing in scientific and technical education; continued support for non-binding rules or regulations that would limit congestion and debris in orbit; and facilitating the growth of the commercial space industry. The framework also identifies “outer space as critical to modern warfare” and calls for the expansion of the development of Earth observation satellites to support action against climate change.

“Without clear norms for the responsible use of space, we run the real risk of threatening our national and global security,” Harris said. She described the test of the Russian anti-satellite missile two weeks ago as “irresponsible action”. it generated about 1,500 orbital debris, delaying astronauts aboard the International Space Station from making a planned spacewalk on Tuesday. The destructive field of debris generated by this test, as well as earlier ones from China, the United States and India, showed that the fleet could remain in orbit and threaten spacecraft for years.

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