Enlarge / Scott Pace, right, and Elon Musk, left, testify before Congress in 2014. (credit: George Washington University)

Scott Pace, a well-known academic figure in the aerospace community, was named executive secretary of the National Space Council in July. As such, he was the first key appointee of the Trump administration on space policy in regard to the future of the military, civil, and commercial space enterprises. While it is not entirely clear how influential the new council will be, it is clear that Pace will have a strong voice in whatever direction it goes.

Although generally regarded as highly capable, thoughtful about space policy, and certainly a true believer in the value of robotic and human spaceflight, the director of the Space Policy Institute at George Washington University has in recent years made comments that have raised concern among commercial spaceflight advocates.

In particular, during both interviews and comments to Congress, Pace has expressed skepticism about both NASA's commercial crew program under President Obama and the abilities of Elon Musk and his rocket company, SpaceX. "It's kind of amazing to me that the Trump administration would line up against the commercial space industry like this," said one former White House official who helped NASA develop the commercial crew program under President Obama.

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