National Space Council

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The National Space Council was a body within the Executive Office of the President of the United States, which existed from 1989 to 1993 during the administration of George H.W. Bush. It was a modified version of the earlier National Aeronautics and Space Council (1958-1973).

1958 - 1973 National Aeronautics and Space Council (NASC)[edit]

Established by the National Aeronautics and Space Act of 1958, the NASC was chaired by the President of the United States (then Dwight Eisenhower). Other members included the Secretaries of State and Defense, the NASA Administrator, the Chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission, and any additional members that the president chose to appoint.

The Council was allowed to employ a staff to be headed by a civilian executive secretary. Eisenhower did not use the NASC extensively during the remainder of his term. He did not fill the post of executive secretary but named an acting secretary on loan from NASA. At the end of his last year in office he recommended that the NASC be abolished. Shortly before assuming office, President-elect John F. Kennedy announced that he wanted his Vice President, Lyndon Johnson, to become chairman of the NASC, requiring an amendment of the Space Act.[1]

Edward Cristy Welsh was the first executive secretary of the National Aeronautics and Space Council (NASC). Appointed in 1961 by President John F. Kennedy, he spent the 1960s as the principal advisor to the White House on space issues. He also assisted in the development of the legislation that created the Communications Satellite Corporation (COMSAT). After his retirement in 1969, he remained active as an advisor to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). Earlier, as a legislative aide to Senator Stuart Symington (D-Missouri), he helped draft the 1958 legislation that created NASA and the NASC.

1989 - 1993 National Space Council[edit]

George H.W. Bush created the National Space Council by "Executive Order 12675". The Council was chaired by Vice President Dan Quayle and included the following members:

Disbanding[edit]

On February 12, 1992, friction between the largely astronaut-based management at NASA and the National Space Council led to Richard Truly, then NASA Administrator and a former astronaut, being forced out. Truly was forced out after Vice President Quayle and the space council's executive director, Mark J. Albrecht, enlisted the aid of Samuel K. Skinner, the White House chief of staff, in urging Pres. Bush to remove Truly. Quayle and the council staff made the move because they felt Truly would impede a new plan to restructure and streamline many aspects of the space program, including the space agency administration.[2]

In 1993, the Space Council was disbanded and its functions absorbed by the National Science and Technology Council.[3]

Re-creation of the National Space Council[edit]

President Barack Obama promised to re-establish the National Aeronautics and Space Council upon taking office in an effort to bridge the gap between the civil and military space agencies.[4] However, as of April 2014, the status of the council's revival is unknown.[5]

References[edit]