Via Satellite

Pence Praises American Space Leadership, Vows Space Force Will Happen

Vice President Mike Pence lauded U.S. leadership in the booming global space industry and renewed the Trump administration’s call to stand up a new Space Force at the Pentagon in a May 6 keynote speech at the annual SATELLITE show in Washington, D.C. Speaking to an audience of U.S. and global government officials, industry partners, and analysts Monday afternoon, Pence provided a snapshot of various efforts the White House has undertaken to support the space industry over the past 2.5 years.

Since President Donald Trump took office in 2017, the administration has “rolled back more federal red tape than any administration in American history in a similar period of time,” he said. He highlighted the Trump administration’s pushes to negotiate new trade deals and the passage of new tax cuts in 2018 that benefited American businesses.

Pence praised the 5.8 million new jobs created over the past two years, including more than 260,000 jobs created last month. He noted that the space industries represented at the conference played a role in those elevated job numbers. “Our technology industry is helping lead the way for renewed American prosperity,” he said.

Two years ago, the satellite industry alone generated $350 billion in revenue, and studies predict that could grow to more than $1 trillion annually over the next two decades, Pence added. About $18 billion has been invested into the space industry globally in the last decade, with the lion’s share going to U.S. companies, he noted. “Space companies have driven incredible economic growth here in the united states and frankly around the world,” he added.

The Trump administration is committed to supporting the U.S. private space industry, and providing them with the “flexibility” and “predictability to be able to make investments, and help lead and transform our impact in space,” Pence said. In particular, he noted how U.S. private industry will play a significant role as the satellite and launch markets shift from a focus on Geostationary Orbit (GEO) to Low Earth Orbit (LEO).

Pence highlighted the White House’s efforts to streamline licensing regimes that govern launch reentry and new commercial space operations, “removing unnecessary regulations that have increased cost and stifled innovation,” he said.

The administration has developed the country’s first-ever space traffic management policy through the Department of Commerce, he noted. “We know this policy will encourage companies like yours to partner with government agencies to develop data sharing systems, tactical guidelines [and] safety standards that will help minimize debris and avoid satellite collisions during launch and while in-orbit,” he said.

This summer, the Commerce Department plans to release the first components of its new open architecture data repository, to offer access to “a basic level of Space Situational Awareness (SSA)” based on both commercial and U.S. military-catalogued data, Pence added.

He committed to ensuring that space companies continue to enjoy access to the wireless spectrum. Last month, the administration announced it would hold “the largest spectrum auction in American history” later in 2019, he said.

Pence also renewed the administration’s commitment to ensuring the United States is a leader in the development of a new 5G network, and maintains security over the next generation of wireless networks. “President Trump has made it clear the race to 5G is a race that America will win,” he said.

The U.S. government under Trump has worked to rebuild the military and invest in new capabilities to support space as a warfighting domain, he noted. Last August, Pence announced the administration’s decision to pursue a sixth military branch dubbed the Space Force. While the original announcement pushed for the Space Force to be established as a “separate but equal” department of the military, the legislative proposal released in March puts the Space Force under the Air Force, similar to how the Marine Corps sits under the Navy.

The administration continues to work with lawmakers on Capitol Hill, who must approve the creation of the Space Force before it is established, but Pence pledged that “the United States Space Force will soon be a reality.”

“History shows that peace comes through strength. In the realm of outer space, the United States Space Force will give us that strength,” he said.

The Vice President (VP) called out nations including Russia, China, North Korea, and Iran for pursuing weapons to jam, blind and disable U.S. assets via electronic attacks from the ground, and warned of ongoing developments in anti-satellite weapons, airborne lasers, on-orbit maneuvering and “evasive” hypersonic missiles. “Our competitors and our adversaries have been aggressively developing and deploying technologies that put our technology and put our prosperity and security at risk,” he said.

Pence chairs the National Space Council, which was originally established during former President George H.W. Bush’s tenure from 1989, and was re-established by Trump in 2017 as an advisory group of cabinet-level officials supported by a Users’ Advisory Group made up of senior industry leaders. VS