VOX Space president Mandy Vaughn. Credit: American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics

WASHINGTON — The chief executive of  Virgin Orbit’s sister company VOX Space called on the Biden administration to continue the National Space Council that former president Donald Trump revived in 2017.

“Keeping the National Space Council intact is a good thing to do,” Mandy Vaughn said Jan. 21. VOX Space markets Virgin Orbit’s launch services to the U.S. government. The company recently completed its first orbital flight. 

Speaking on a webinar organized by the nonprofit NewSpace New Mexico, Vaughn said continuing the space council would be a “low hanging fruit” recommendation to the new administration. 

Vaughn said the National Space Council — with representatives from multiple federal agencies and an industry users group — is needed for effective policy coordination in civil, commercial, national security and international space policy matters.

The council was first created in 1989 during the George H.W. Bush administration, disbanded in 1993 and reestablished in July 2017 by the Trump administration.

“The space council has had, I think, demonstrable success in showing good pace of change, and being able to move new policy recommendations through the interagency process,” said Vaughn.

Other experts also have called on Biden to retain the National Space Council.

“What I would say to the administration is ‘please keep the space council intact because I think that’s a critical element in making sure that we have all of those interagency elements at the table together at the highest possible level,’” she said.

Vaughn endorsed the findings of a December report written by a group of government and industry officials that called on a national “whole of government” effort to advance space technology and innovation as an engine of economic growth. 

The health of the industry, said Vaughn, has “national security implications.” The different sectors of the space industry are interconnected so policies have to take a holistic view, said Vaughn.

Launch providers like VOX Space depend on the government to invest in infrastructure and generate demand. “The launch vehicle element is super exciting but … it’s just one part of a much, much larger deeper ecosystem,” Vaughn said.

The new space race now is really an economic race with elements of national security, she said. “The economic and financial changes need to happen at the same pace and rate of change as the technology changes.”

Sandra Erwin writes about military space programs, policy, technology and the industry that supports this sector. She has covered the military, the Pentagon, Congress and the defense industry for nearly two decades as editor of NDIA’s National Defense...