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The National Space Council Is Operating in Stealth Mode (Update)

By Keith Cowing
NASA Watch
February 18, 2018
Filed under
The National Space Council Is Operating in Stealth Mode (Update)

Keith’s 15 Feb note: The National Space Council (NSpC) (established by Presidential Executive Order) is having a big, potentially lavish, meeting at NASA KSC on 21 February in 5 days complete with a SpaceX Falcon Heavy booster on display. The NSpC’s Users’ Advisory Group (UAG) will also be meeting. The UAG is a FACA (Federal Advisory Committee Act) committee – yet no public announcement has been made in advance of this public meeting in the Federal Register per Federal law pertaining to publicizing standard FACA activities two weeks in advance. Nor has any formal mention been made of the NSpC meeting itself. No location has been announced and no attendance procedures for media or citizens have been announced. NASA and other agencies have issued zero media advisories. Multiple people have been confirmed as being members of the NSpC’s Users’ Advisory Group – yet none have been named publicly. A large reception sponsored and paid for by the major aerospace organizations and all of the major aerospace companies is planned during the meeting – yet no public mention has been made of this event (you are not invited, BTW). No mention is made on NASA’s calendar page. No word yet as to whether this highly-staged event will be televised for taxpayers to observe.
This is your National Space Council operating in stealth mode.

Keith’s 16 Feb update: At one point Boeing and Lockheed Martian went to the General Counsel’s office at the White House to complain about this party that they were not being invited to. Meanwhile some UAG members are wondering where their meeting will be held since they have not been provided with an address to go to. The entire Florida congressional delegation is expected to attend as well as local and state officials. But no media advisories or agendas have been released by the White House or any of the agencies with representatives on the NSpC. This means that the earliest that something might be released to the public is Monday, 19 February – just two days before the event. No one at the White House seems to be at all bothered by this total lack of transparency.
As Elon Musk antagonized rival, the space industry battled over who will host a cocktail reception for the vice president, Washington Post
“Ahead of the second meeting of the White House’s National Space Council in Florida next week, a consortium of upstart entrepreneurial companies known as the Commercial Spaceflight Federation, which includes SpaceX, decided to host a reception for members of the council, who just happen to be some of the most powerful players in Washington. Headed by Vice President Pence, the policymaking council is made up of the secretaries of State, Commerce, Treasury, Transportation and Defense and other top government officials. But when the groups representing some of the more traditional space contractors, such as Boeing and Lockheed Martin, caught wind of the party, they complained to the White House, which agreed that they, too, should host the reception.”
Keith’s 16 Feb further update: Here is a listing of events for the 20/21 February National Space Council events at the NASA Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex. No word on where the UAG will be meeting or if they will simply be part of the overall NSpC event. No agenda for the NSpC event has been released. Nor is any mention made of televising the event on NASA’s TV schedule. No mention is made on the NASA Calendar page. Nor is there any mention on the KSC home page.
Reception 20 February
– Parking Lot 4 Opens 5:30 p.m.
– 6:30 p.m. Front Entrance Opens (Guests will walk through the Explore Sign though security screening, proceed to Atlantis Facility for check-in)
– 7:00 p.m. Reception
– 9:30 p.m. Depart Event
National Space Council Meeting 21 February
– 7:00 a.m. Parking Lot 4 Opens, Front Entrance Opens, Go to Debus Conference Facility (Check-in will be inside with a light continental breakfast for guests.)
– 8:15 – 8:45 a.m. Bus Boarding – Lot 1 (Guests will exit Debus Conference Facility and be directed around the building and board KSCVC tour buses to the Space Station Processing Facility (SSPF))
– NOON Depart Event – SSPF (Guests will board KCSVC tour buses back to Parking Lot 4)
Next National Space Council Meeting, earlier post
National Space Council Users’ Advisory Group Established, earlier post
Apply Now To Be On The National Space Council Users’ Advisory Group, earlier post

NASA Watch founder, Explorers Club Fellow, ex-NASA, Away Teams, Journalist, Space & Astrobiology, Lapsed climber.

14 responses to “The National Space Council Is Operating in Stealth Mode (Update)”

  1. jamesmuncy says:

    I do not believe the Space Council is an Advisory Committee under the FACA. That is because it is an interagency committee of federal employees, namely Cabinet members and agency heads. Therefore there does not have to be a public notice of its meetings.

    The User Advisory Group *is* a FACA.

    • kcowing says:

      UAG is a FACA committee. As for no public notice of the NSpC meeting – of course not. Why would the Administration want the citizenry to know what a “National” space council meeting – a body established by presidential executive order – is doing.

  2. JadedObs says:

    While I think you are right to be concerned that the National Space Council meeting has not been publicly announced nor have media arrangements been made, this is not a FACA – it is a Presidential Council composed of Presidential appointees or their designees just like the National Security Council. According to the Commerce Department web site:

    The FACA applies whenever an agency seeks consensus advice from a group that includes at least one person who is not a regular Federal employee, and obtains input for its own operations or activities.
    Now the User Advisory Group would be a FACA but, while it may be announced at this event, I don’t think they have met yet nor will they at this meeting.

  3. Bob Mahoney says:

    Maybe they’ll actually get something done.

  4. Grey Area says:

    Considering that the National Space Council consists of:

    Vice President of the United States, chair
    Secretary of State
    Secretary of Defense
    Secretary of Commerce
    Secretary of Transportation
    Secretary of Homeland Security
    Director of National Intelligence
    Director of the Office of Budget and Management
    National Security Advisor
    Administrator of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration
    Homeland Security Advisor
    Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff

    1/2 the people involved are defense, security, intel types. While NASA is there, you can assume that a lot of what they talk about is military aspects of our space program, and all of this will be top secret.

    • Donald Barker says:

      And as such the civil side of the space program languishes for 50 years; relegated to flying circles and losing their ride to space without any forethought or understanding. These people are playing games with all our lives and futures and they dont care.

  5. SouthwestExGOP says:

    With the glacial pace that the NSpC has adopted, they will finally have some proposed actions just in time for the 2020 election campaign to drown them out.

    In the meantime SpaceX and Boeing and Sierra Nevada, etc are moving swiftly ahead.

  6. Grey Area says:

    Hah. Looks like they are hiding from everyone that wants the money.

  7. fcrary says:

    I’m curious, under the FACA, what constitutes a meeting? I’m more interested in general than in this particular case. In the most literal sense, I suppose if the members were in the same room and said hello to each other, it could be called a “meeting.” But I doubt that’s what the Act is supposed to mean. All of them sitting around a conference table with an agenda would also be pretty clear. But if the members of a FAC are all at the same conference and go out to dinner together, would they get in trouble? If not, couldn’t they use this sort of informal get together to bypass the FACA rules?