Pence: ‘Expect great things’ from new head of Office of Space Commerce

As the Trump administration looks to streamline its space operations within the Commerce Department, Vice President Mike Pence applauded the agency’s efforts of creating a “one-stop shop” for commercial space policy.

Following President Donald Trump’s signing of Space Policy Directive 2 (SPD-2) in May, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross announced his agency would consolidate the Office of Space Commerce and the Office of Commercial Remote Sensing Regulatory Affairs into a new agency — the Space Policy Advancing Commercial Enterprise (SPACE) Administration.

Pence, who also chairs the recently established National Space Council, said the new office will “give the space economy a voice and a seat at the table, and to save our most innovative trailblazers from endless bureaucracy and regulatory limbo.”

Through the Commerce Department, Pence said the White House seeks to reform the “byzantine licensing” requirements that keep companies from accessing the latest satellite technology.

“Through this department, we’ve been working to reform the obsolete rules that have stifled the massive demand for up-to-date satellite images and live video of the earth,” he said.

Pence also gave a shout-out to Kevin O’Connell, Trump’s pick to serve as the director for the Office of Space Commerce, who would eventually take over as head of the SPACE Administration.

“President Donald Trump and I expect great things from the new director of the Office of Space Commerce, and from all the great work of this space initiative here at the Department of Commerce,” he said.

Pence thanks Commerce employees for ‘vital role’

In the aftermath of the Commerce Department’s celebration of its 115th anniversary earlier this year, Pence also thanked the agency’s workforce of more than 47,000 employees for its work in meeting aspects of the president’s agenda.

“Thank you to all of you at the Department of Commerce for all that you’ve contributed to advancing the policies and the conditions that are encouraging this extraordinary growth in the American economy,” Pence said. “Just as President [Theodore] Roosevelt had a vision of boundless American future in his time, so too President Trump has been busy since the first day of our administration charting a new course for American prosperity in our time. The Department of Commerce has been playing a vital role in this exciting and prospering new era.”

In highlighting the work of Commerce’s various components, Pence praised the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association for its work since the start of hurricane season.

“The work done by the dedicated team at NOAA has never been more important to the safety of the American people,” he said.

As the Census Bureau works through the home stretch on launching the 2020 population count, Pence asserted it would be the “most accurate census yet.”

However, the agency continues to fend off lawsuits and mounting pressure from lawmakers regarding the last-minute addition of a citizenship question on the 2020 census form.

Pence also praised the National Institute of Standards and Technology for its work in laying the groundwork for cybersecurity in both the public and private sectors.

“Countless components of the American economy depend on its research and its publications,” Pence said.

In June, Trump directed the Defense Department to stand up a Space Force as a standalone military service branch.