Vice President Mike Pence addresses the Space Symposium in Colorado Springs. (Space Symposium via YouTube)
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — The Trump administration is getting set to sign off on a new set of procedures for managing space traffic and minimizing space junk, Vice President Mike Pence said today.
During an opening address to the 34th Space Symposium here, Pence talked up efforts to boost human spaceflight, set a course for the moon and Mars, and trim back regulations on the space industry.
“Under President Donald Trump, America is leading in space once again,” said Pence, who chairs the White House’s National Space Council.
Pence called on the Senate to confirm Trump’s choice for NASA administrator, Rep. Jim Bridenstine, R-Okla., whose nomination has been stalled for months. He also announced that Jim Ellis, former commander of the U.S. Strategic Command, would head the space council’s Users Advisory Group.
But it was Pence’s comments on a new space traffic management system that drew the most attention.
He made note of past problems with satellite traffic, including a smash-up that produced thousands of bits of space junk in 2009. Tens of thousands of pieces of debris are currently being tracked in orbit.
“As commercial companies continue to send even more satellites into orbit, the volume of space traffic will only increase in the years ahead,” Pence said.
He said a new policy to address the potential risks will soon be sent to Trump for his approval. The policy calls on the Commerce Department to provide “a basic level of space situational awareness for public and private use,” based on tracking data compiled by the Defense Department.
Commercial space ventures would also be encouraged to partner with the government on the development of data-sharing systems and guidelines for minimizing orbital debris and avoiding satellite collisions, Pence said.
Brian Weeden, technical adviser for the …read more