The race for space has resumed between the United States, China and Russia, with the Trump administration seeking to enhance America’s position as other countries have advanced their technology and engaged in tactics to harm U.S. interests, Vice President Mike Pence said in a speech.
Vice President Pence, speaking on May 6 to the Satellite 2019 conference in Washington, D.C., reminded the attendees of President Trump’s inaugural address, in which he said America is ready to move forward in space. Private industry will play a key role in the effort as the Trump administration has removed regulatory red tape, negotiated new trade deals and passed tax cuts to spur investment in innovative technologies, Pence added.
The economy is “roaring,” with 5.8 million new jobs created in the past two years, Pence said. Plus, more Americans are working today than ever before, he added.
The U.S. technology industry is helping to lead the way for “renewed American prosperity,” Pence said. At the same time, space companies that drive innovation are critical to American success, he continued.
Race for Space is Spurring Industry of the Future, Pence Predicted
“Space has been recognized as an industry of the future, in particular,” Pence said. “$18 billion has been invested in companies throughout the space industry in the last decade, and with the majority of that funding, I am proud to say, going to companies right here in the United States.”
However, the industry’s importance goes beyond growth, revenues and income, Pence said. The space industry also improves the lives of people in “countless ways,” Pence added.
“Space makes the marvel of the Global Positioning System (GPS) possible,” Pence said. While many Americans use GPS to find the quickest way to work, this technology also provides “critical information” to U.S. war fighters so they can dominate in the battlefield and win, he added.
Proving the Power of Commercial Satellites to Connect Isolated Places
“We’ve witnessed the power of commercial satellites to reconnect isolated communities in the wake of natural disasters, providing final emergency communication between those impacted with first responders and those that are providing relief,” Pence said.
Just last week, the world watched in wonder as launch services providers SpaceX and Blue Origin proved once again that pioneering private companies will help cultivate the vast expanses of low-Earth orbit and explore the further regions of space, Pence said.
“We are proud of our private space industry in the United States of America,” said Pence, who added that President Trump has said, “Rich guys love rockets.” Two billionaires who have pursued the development of reusable launch vehicles are SpaceX’s Elon Musk and Blue Origin’s Jeffrey Bezos.
“Our administration has been absolutely committed to making sure our space entrepreneurs have the flexibility and the predictability to be able to make investments and help lead and transform our impact in space, particularly when it comes to low-Earth orbit,” Pence said.
Race for Space has Allowed Pence to Meet American Tech Leaders
Pence said he has traveled across the country on President Trump’s behalf to meet with the men and women who are forging America’s future in space.
In California’s Mojave Desert, Pence said he saw the spaceships that will carry the first generation of space tourists to the edge of the Earth’s atmosphere. A trip to Alabama allowed Pence to meet with the engineers and technicians who are preparing NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) to take Americans “deeper into space” than ever before, he added.
The vice president said he ventured to Colorado to tour the Lockheed Martin Corp. (NYSE:LMT) factory that is producing the latest and most advanced GPS satellites in the world. These kinds of achievements are “emblematic” of the “incredible work” that people in the space and satellite industries do, Pence added.
‘Renewing’ America’s Legacy of Leadership in Space
“Under President Trump’s leadership, we have made great progress in renewing America’s proud legacy of leadership in space,” Pence said. “In our very first year in office, after it had laid dormant for nearly a quarter of a century, President Trump made the decision to revive the National Space Council.”
Pence said it is his “great honor” to serve as the council’s chairman. While on the campaign trail prior to the 2016 presidential election, Trump asked Pence if he would like to chair the council, since U.S. vice presidents have done so in the past.
Soon after taking office, President Trump officially revived the National Space Council and named Pence its chairman.
One of the “greatest memories of my youth” came from watching television to see Neil Armstrong land on the moon and take one small step for man and one giant leap for mankind, said Pence, who also recalled when he and his wife took their then-young children to visit Cape Canaveral, Florida, where NASA launched rockets.
Pence said he and his wife wanted their children to have their imagination inspired by America’s “proud legacy” of leadership in space.
Pence Says the First Woman to Land on the Moon Will Be an American
“When I was elected to Congress in 2000, the only committee I asked to be on was the NASA subcommittee,” Pence said. Just two months ago, he presided over the fifth meeting of the National Space Council.
“It is the greatest honor of my life to help this president renew America’s leadership in space,” Pence said.
Under the Trump administration, it now is America’s national policy to return to the moon within the next five years and put Americans on Mars, Pence said.
“The first woman and the next man on the moon will be Americans,” Pence said.
America Will Resume Launching Astronauts on U.S.-Built Boosters
“This year our administration is incredibly proud that before the year is out, we will once again launch American astronauts on American rockets from American soil into the vast expanse of space,” Pence said.
To fully unlock American capabilities, the Trump administration recognized the need to bring together some of the “brightest minds and the biggest talents” in the country to help accelerate innovation for space initiatives by having the National Space Council form a Users’ Advisory Group (UAG), Pence said.
“American companies are on the cutting edge of the space industry developing new rockets, spaceships, satellites and technologies,” Pence said.
The administration also wants to make it easier for “trailblazing” companies to be able to succeed and prosper, Pence said. One way is by streamlining the licensing regimes that oversee launch reentry and new commercial operations in space, cutting unnecessary regulations that have increased costs and stifled innovation, he added.
Race for Space Requires In-Orbit Traffic Management
“We’ve also developed our nation’s first space traffic management policy to help navigate the thousands of satellites and other man-made objects orbiting the Earth at this very moment,” Pence said.
The policy is meant to help companies to partner with government agencies to develop data share systems, technical guidelines and safety standards to reduce the risk of debris and satellite collisions during launch and while in orbit, Pence said.
The U.S. Department of Commerce soon will unveil the first part of its open architecture data repository, which will provide access to a basic level of space situational awareness, using both commercial data and the space catalog compiled by the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) that tracks more than 23,000 man-made objects currently in orbit.
Trump Administration Assures Access to Wireless Spectrum
The Trump administration also wants to ensure the industry still has access to wireless spectrum to provide needed services, Pence said.
“Today, spectrum is more valuable than ever, as more industries begin to make use of the next-generation wireless networks, 5G,” Pence said. “This revolutionary technology will improve the way Americans work, learn, travel, farm, run businesses and communicate from cellphones in our pockets to autonomous cars on the roads.
“President Trump has made it clear that the race to 5G is a race that America will win. We will make sure these 5G networks are secured.”
Race for Space Requires Increased Spectrum Access
To ensure spectrum bandwidth is used as efficiently as possible, President Trump last year issued a directive for every federal department and agency to increase spectrum access to all users.
“Just last month, we announced that we are going to hold the largest spectrum auction in American history later this year,” Pence said.
Since not all nations share America’s ideals, values, commitment to freedom, the rule of law and peace, Pence said it makes U.S. leadership in space especially important.
The truth is nations such as Russia, China, North Korea and Iran have pursued weapons to jam and disable U.S. navigation and communications satellites via electronic attacks from the ground, Pence said.
“Recently, we’ve even seen nations working on bringing new weapons of war into space itself from anti-satellite weapons to airport lasers to highly threatening on-orbit activities and evasive, hypersonic missiles,” Pence continued. “Our competitors and our adversaries have been aggressively developing and deploying technologies to put our prosperity and security at risk.”
Race for Space Sets up ‘Warfighting Domain’
President Trump has said space is a ‘warfighting domain,’ just like the land, air and sea, and America is going to be as dominant for its security in space as it is on Earth, Pence told the attendees.
To meet emerging threats, America has been rebuilding its military and restoring the arsenal of democracy since the first days of the Trump administration, Pence said.
Last year, President Trump signed the largest investment in U.S. national defense since the Reagan administration, including new resources to enhance the resilience of U.S. national defense systems, Pence said.
To carry out that mission, the United States Space Force soon will become the sixth branch of the U.S. military to safeguard America’s ideals and interests, as well as the interests of all who cherish freedom, Pence said.
“America will always seek peace in space and here on Earth,” Pence said.
The United States this year will mark the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11’s historic moon landing on July 20, 1969, when the lunar module only had 30 seconds of fuel left before touching down safely. A little more than six hours later, American astronauts Neil Armstrong and Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin became the first humans to walk on the lunar surface as more than 600 million television viewers worldwide were able to hear and see it.
Race for Space Requires Determination, Courage and Grit, Pence Said
Through extraordinary determination, courage and grit, the space pioneers in the 1960s chose to do something extraordinary in their time.
Rules and values of space will be written by those who had the courage to get there first and stay, said Pence, who added he envisions a future of free commerce, enterprise and security above the Earth for the United States.
America will lead with confidence in the rising generation of young men and women, as well as little boys and girls, who are inspired to see innovations for the future of America on Earth and in space, Pence said.
“I’m absolutely confident that the best days for Americans and America’s leadership in space are still ahead,” Pence said.
Race for Space Could Lift Public Companies
Even though it is great to hear about progress with the National Space Policy, the news so far is “more flare than fire,” said Hilary Kramer, a Wall Street money manager who leads the Value Authority, GameChangers, Turbo Trader, High Octane Trader and Inner Circle advisory services for individual investors.
“The Space Force is starting with a $500 million annual budget, reflecting what’s obviously sensitivity in the Pentagon to keeping costs under control,” Kramer said. “The generals can brag that this is 0.07 percent of the $750 billion defense outlay, but in a world where it still costs about $60 million to launch a single satellite, it just doesn’t stretch that far.”
The price of a satellite itself can easily “blow the rest of the budget,” Kramer said. And it “doesn’t move any investment needles” either, she added.
“Even if Lockheed Martin captured that entire added spend, it wouldn’t even bolt an extra 1 percent onto its annual revenue,” Kramer said.
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Where this situation becomes exciting is the civilian commercial applications, Kramer said.
“Buried in the vice president’s comments was a reminder that the real financial push into space is coming from Commerce and not Defense,” Kramer said. “Commerce is the government department that’s almost ready to unveil a next-generation orbital navigation database as part of a dedicated effort to tame what’s now the Wild West. That project goes live at the end of June. From there, [Commerce Secretary] Wilbur Ross wants to promote the domestic satellite industry, which means extra visibility for LMT, as well as Northrop Grumman (NYSE:NOC) and Boeing (NYSE:BA).
“It could also be a game changer for MAXAR Technologies (NYSE:MAXR), which owns the old Loral Space Systems business. Here at a run rate around $2 billion, it doesn’t take a lot of stimulus to get MAXR growing fast again. Ross insists that the space business is primed to go ballistic in the next 20 years. His low estimate for growth is 5 percent compounded per year, but real growth could ultimately come in double that rate. Over a 20-year window, that’s huge, and MAXR is the place I’d look for it to create a real impact on portfolios.”
Of course, satellites need constant monitoring, since they are vulnerable to space hazards and occasional malfunctions, Kramer said.
“I’m still a fan of Intelsat (NYSE:I) as the military orbital network of choice,” Kramer said. “Of course, that company now also supports a lot of civilian communications, which raises a crucial point: if Commerce leads the way, the real conquest of space will revolve around 5G, spectrum allocation, remote sensing, weather and above all else making sure that every device on the internet of things knows its position at all times. Safe autonomous vehicles need better navigation systems than today’s GPS. That’s the opportunity.”
As Ross has said, “Money is key, not only to the orbital leap but to the investors putting up the capital and accepting the risk in exchange for what could be truly stellar rewards in decades to come.”
For investors, opportunities will emerge in the new race for space. Meanwhile, competitive threats also are growing and the use of technology from other countries to harm U.S. in-orbit assets will put a premium on America reestablishing itself as the world’s space leader to deter military aggression from foreign governments.
Paul Dykewicz, www.pauldykewicz.com, is an accomplished, award-winning journalist who has written for Dow Jones, the Wall Street Journal, Investor’s Business Daily, USA Today, the Journal of Commerce, Seeking Alpha, GuruFocus and other publications and websites. Paul is the editor of StockInvestor.com and DividendInvestor.com, a writer for both websites and a columnist. He further is the editorial director of Eagle Financial Publications in Washington, D.C., where he edits monthly investment newsletters, time-sensitive trading alerts, free e-letters and other investment reports. Paul previously served as business editor of Baltimore’s Daily Record newspaper. Paul also is the author of an inspirational book, “Holy Smokes! Golden Guidance from Notre Dame’s Championship Chaplain,” with a foreword by former national championship-winning football coach Lou Holtz. Follow Paul on Twitter @PaulDykewicz.