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Scott Pace has been chosen by the White House to be executive secretary of the newly revived National Space Council. (Click image to enlarge.)

GPS Expert Scott Pace Named to National Space Council

July 17, 2017
Inside GNSS, July/August 2017

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Scott Pace, a grand master of space policy with particular expertise in satellite navigation, has been chosen by the White House to be executive secretary of the newly revived and potentially powerful National Space Council.

"Ever since the Trump Administration indicated that it would re-establish the Space Council," wrote Marcia Smith of spacepolicyonline.com, "his is virtually the only name rumored to be in the running to serve as the head of its staff."

The GPS community knows Pace well. Currently the director of the Space Policy Institute and a professor of the practice of international affairs at George Washington University, he serves as a special counselor to the National Space-Based Positioning, Navigation, and Timing (PNT) Advisory Board — the nation's leading panel of GPS experts.

"He's a great choice," said Brad Parkinson, the first director of the NAVSTAR GPS Joint Program Office and a vice chair of the Advisory Board. Parkinson, who has known Pace for some two decades, described him as a dedicated servant of the citizens of the United States who tries hard to always do the right thing.

"He has, I know, not only impressed me," said Parkinson, "he's impressed virtually anyone he's dealt with."

Pace served as NASA associate administrator from April 2005 to August 2008 and assistant director for space and aeronautics in the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy from 2001-2002. He was a senior analyst at RAND for nearly eight years, joining the company after stints as a senior scientist at the Department of Commerce and a technician at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

"Dr. Pace has been a mentor and inspiration for many of us at NASA and throughout the space community for many years. His expertise and scope of institutional knowledge, coupled with his diplomatic acumen, will go far in advancing the goals of the historic and newly resurrected National Space Council," said James J. Miller, the executive director of the PNT Advisory Board. "I would expect that all in the GPS/GNSS community are quite enthusiastic about the new role for such an American statesman."

Pace has played a role in GPS policy for decades. In the mid-1990's — as the federal government was working through how to revamp its management of the GPS program — Pace was the lead author on a key RAND report: The Global Positioning System, Assessing National Priorities. Shortly thereafter he became instrumental in protecting GPS frequencies as a U.S. delegate to the 1997 World Radio Conference (WRC). He was a U.S. delegate to the WRC again in, 2000, 2003 and 2007 and to the United Nations Committee on Peaceful Uses of Outer Space in 2009 and from 2011 through 2015.

Council's Broad Potential
Though the Space Council has existed off and on since 1958, it has been shuttered since 1993. On June 30 President Trump brought the council back to life with an executive order tasking the group with "advising and assisting the president regarding national space policy and strategy." In particular the council is to review the country's current space policy, including its long-range goals, and develop a strategy to guide national space activities. The council is to develop specific recommendations, give advice on international space activities and "foster close cooperation and coordination between civil, national security, and commercial space sectors."

It is also supposed to "monitor and coordinate" implementation of policy decisions and "facilitate the resolution of differnces concerning major space and space-related policy matters." This broad reach, to both devise and help implement policy — even when it falls into broader "space-related" arenas — could help resolve issues that have been vexing the GPS community for years.

For example, the council appears well placed to play a role in the resolution of the running battle between the GPS community and would-be broadband provider Ligado Networks. The Ligado proposal for a nationwide network, though revised to reduce interference to GPS receivers, was recently judged by the Board to still be harmful to GPS. The issue has been before the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) for some seven years and has ramifications for the country's critical infrastructure.

There are other lingering issues that the Space Council may be able to resolve including sorting out support for civil GPS signal monitoring, assuring that GPS can be used fully for space navigation and developing a backup for the GPS timing information essential to most critical infrastructure.

There is also the question of granting a waiver allowing the use of signals from Europe's Galileo constellation in the United States for official, non-government applications like improving the ability to locate E911 callers. The FCC has been proceeding at a glacial pace and the years-long delay has raised eyebrows in Europe and may be tangling negotiations for the U.S. military to use Galileo's Public Regulated Service (PRS) signal. The Council, especially with Pace as its executive secretary, may have the mandate and the expertise to move things along.

"Dr. Pace brings a wealth of knowledge and broad expertise in national space policy to his new position," said the GPS Innovation Alliance in an emailed statement congratulating Pace on his appointment. "We look forward to supporting the activities of the National Space Council to advance U.S. leadership in GPS and global satellite navigation.”

National Space Council Membership*

•    Vice President (Chairman)
•    Secretary of State
•    Secretary of Defense
•    Secretary of Commerce
•    Secretary of Transportation
•    Director of the White House Office of Management and Budget
•    Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs
•    Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy
•    Director of National Intelligence
•    Secretary of Homeland Security
•    Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism
•    Administrator of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration
•    Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff
•    heads of other executive departments and agencies and other senior officials within the Executive Office of the President as determined by the Chairman

*in the order listed in the June 30, 2017 Executive Order

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