President Donald Trump is bringing back the National Space Council.
On Tuesday, Vice President Mike Pence announced Trump’s plan to re-establish a National Space Council — a Bush-era advisory board established to serve as a go-between for the White House and NASA.
“In very short order, the president will be taking action to relaunch the National Space Council,” Pence said during the signing of a NASA authorization bill.
“…We’re going to be bringing together the best and the brightest in NASA and also in the private sector.”
This is the first time Trump has mentioned space and NASA in any substantial way since his election.
While he has offhandedly mentioned spaceflight in a few of his speeches — and his budget blueprint does outline some of NASA’s future — the establishment of the space council is the first real news about NASA’s future to come out of the administration since Trump moved into the White House in January.
However, this move shouldn’t exactly come as a shock.
Trump’s campaign plugged the idea of re-establishing the council before the election, and multiple Republican presidents have used this kind of advisory board to their advantage in the past.
It’s not yet clear exactly when the council will be established, but Pence will head it up, as other vice presidents have done before him.
It is clear that Trump sees NASA as something of a jobs program, and during the campaign he lamented the loss of NASA jobs in Florida’s space coast after the shutdown of the space shuttle program.
“It’s a lot of jobs, and these are great jobs,” Trump said before signing the bill.
Trump also praised some of the high points of the bill, including the health care provision that allows NASA to set up a framework to treat former astronauts for medical issues sustained as a result of spaceflight.
He also reaffirmed the country’s commitment to building the huge Space Launch System rocket and Orion spacecraft — which he mistakenly pronounced “Oor-ian” — to send NASA deeper into the solar system than ever before.
“We have elected a builder for president and as he said, America once again is to start building and leading to the stars,” Pence said.
Trump also joked about fixing our highways on Earth during the signing, echoing a controversial statement he made during the campaign about the need to fix potholes on this planet before thinking about space travel.