‘To infinity and beyond’: Trump revives National Space Council

by WorldTribune Staff, July 2, 2017

The U.S. space program, which was essentially grounded first during the Clinton Administration and further “crippled” by the Obama administration, got new life on June 30 when President Donald Trump signed an executive order to revive the National Space Council.

President Donald Trump speaks with Buzz Aldrin before signing an executive order to establish the National Space Council. / AP

“Space exploration is not only essential to our character as a nation but our economy and our great nation’s security,” Trump said at a White House signing ceremony, adding, “I think privatization of certain aspects is going to play an important role.”

Buzz Aldrin, the Apollo 11 astronaut who in 1969 along with mission commander Neil Armstrong became one of the first two people to walk on the moon, was at the White House for the signing ceremony.

As he signed the order, Trump summoned a signature line of the “Toy Story” movies’ character Buzz Lightyear who was inspired by Aldrin: “To Infinity and Beyond.”

Blogger Mark Whittington, who wrote a study of space exploration entitled “Why is It So Hard to Go Back to the Moon?”, said the former President Barack Obama “profoundly and adroitly … crippled” NASA’s efforts “to send astronauts beyond low Earth orbit.”

“Obama wasted eight years that might have been spent getting Americans beyond low Earth orbit,” Whittington wrote. “The Journey to Mars has been the Obamacare of space exploration – expensive, unsustainable, and not designed to do what it is alleged to do.”

The National Space Council, which was first formed during the 1960s race to the moon between the U.S. and Soviet Union, will be led by Vice President Mike Pence.

Vice President Lyndon Johnson was the first chairman of an earlier version of the space council under President John F. Kennedy in 1961.

The Trump administration’s new approach to space comes as private-sector companies including Elon Musk’s SpaceX and Jeff Bezos’s Blue Origin have emerged as big players.

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