Regardless of when President Donald Trump leaves office, he has already left a lasting legacy in the U.S. space program. Over the past four years, the Trump administration restarted the National Space Council, announced new missions to the Moon and Mars, and established Space Force as the newest branch of the U.S. military.
After years of dormancy in the U.S. space program under prior administrations, there is no denying it has been reinvigorated under the Trump administration. "They brought the National Space Council back to life, and they brought a lot of order out of chaos in the space program," says Keith Cowing with NASAWatch. "But the biggest thing they were known for is supporting the Artemis program to send people back to the Moon."
Perhaps the most notable space achievement under President Trump was the establishment of Space Force. Cowing believes that, despite all the hype over Space Force, there is a place for increased military attention and presence outside Earth. "There are real things we need to be worried about in space in terms of national defense," he tells KTRH. "And some countries are far more interested, it seems, in putting weapons up there than we are, and we do need to be paying great attention to them."
When it comes to international threats in space, China looms largest, with reported plans to establish a lunar base within ten years. However, Cowing would like to actually see more cooperation rather than competition, like the U.S. has done with Russia in recent years. "We have lessons that can be learned from what is being done in space by the U.S. and Russia (together)," he says. "And I would venture that being able to work with China in space in a similar way could yield some more benefits."
As for the prospects of a new administration taking over on January 20, Cowing doesn't expect to see big changes to U.S. space policy. "I think they're interested in continuity," he says. "I don't think you'll see them going in there and canceling things, and ripping things off the wall, and changing the names of things and so forth."