US president Donald Trump has signed an executive order to re-establish the US National Space Council. The council will include key government officials with an interest in space exploration, including the NASA acting administrator Robert Lightfoot and the secretaries of state, commerce and defence. The council will be chaired by US vice president Mike Pence and will also include a "Users' Advisory Group" that will represent the interests of industries and other organizations not associated with the federal government.

The council had existed in 1989–1993 during the presidency of George H W Bush. A previous incarnation called the National Aeronautics and Space Council was in place in 1958–1973.

Deep interest

Lightfoot says that the council will "ensure that all aspects of the nation's space power – national security, commerce, international relations, exploration and science – are co-ordinated and aligned to best serve the American people". He adds: "The establishment of the council is another demonstration of the Trump Administration's deep interest in our work, and a testament to the importance of space exploration to our economy, our nation, and the planet as a whole."