Vice President Mike Pence paid a visit to NASA’s Marshall Spaceflight Center to receive a briefing on the status of the Space Launch System and other projects the space agency is working on there. Pence also placed a video call to the American astronauts on the International Space Station. He did not open his mind a lot about plans the Trump administration has for civil space, except to tell one of the veteran NASA employees to “Stay. It’s about to get exciting.” Some hint about what that excitement will be about may be forthcoming next week. The White House has announced the first meeting of the National Space Council in a quarter of a century to take place October 5.

‘Leading the Next Frontier: An Event with the National Space Council’

According to the White House press release, the National Space Council will meet at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, Virginia on October 5, 2017. The meeting will bring together experts from “Civil Space, Commercial Space, and National Security Space” to provide testimony. Pence also is quoted as saying that the meeting will provide an occasion for the Trump administration to “lay out its vision for space exploration.” If that is true, the meeting could be one of the most significant events of the 21st Century.

Some unanswered questions

Details are said to be following. However, some unanswered questions exist. Will the meeting be open to the public and will it be webcast or telecast? The Steven F.

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Udvar-Hazy Center is the annex for the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum located at Dulles International Airport. The facility contains an extensive collection of historic aircraft and spacecraft, including the B 29 bomber the Enola Gay that dropped an atomic bomb on Hiroshima, the space shuttle Discovery, and the Gemini VII space capsule. Such a public venue cries out for transparency and even public participation through social media.

It will also be interesting to have a list of which outside experts are giving testimony. The list will provide some indication of the direction the Trump administration envisions the civil space program going. The primary focus of the Trump civil space policy is said to be a return to the moon, facilitated by commercial and international partnerships. No doubt these and other details of where America is headed in space will be forthcoming at the meeting.

One other good thing about an exciting new space initiative, backed up by funding and leadership, is that it will give something for the media to discuss besides tiresome professional sports protests. It may even give the president something positive to tweet about.