The National Space Council, the space policy group revived by the Trump administration, will continue to operate in a new form under the Biden White House, with Vice President Kamala Harris at the helm.
Harris intends to “put her personal stamp” on the council to focus on a wide range of space policies, including the sustainable development of commercial space travel, “promoting peaceful norms and responsible behavior in space,” climate change and more, senior administration officials said during telephone conversation with journalists on Saturday (May 1).
“As I said earlier: in America, when we strive for the moon, we plant our flag on it,” Harris said on Twitter Saturday after the call. “It is a great honor for me to chair our National Space Council.”
White House officials are currently seeking an executive secretary for the new council, and the work “has been well under way for a long time,” senior administration officials said. They have not set a timetable for when the first board meeting might take place.
The Biden administration’s selection for NASA administrator, former Senator Bill Nelson of Florida, was unanimously approved by the Senate this week and will be sworn in as the new head of NASA on Monday (May 3).
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The National Space Council (NSC) was first created in 1989 by the George W. Bush administration to review US space policy and make recommendations to the president. It was active until 1993 and then was disbanded.
The Trump administration revived the NSC in 2017, under the leadership of then Vice President Mike Pence (the vice president usually heads the council), who called on NASA to return astronauts to the moon by 2024 – a goal of the Artemis program. The National Security Council also briefed on Trump’s space policy directives aimed at reducing bureaucratic delays for commercial space travel, increasing cybersecurity in space, and creating a US space force.
As I said earlier: in America, when we strive for the moon, we plant our flag on it. I am honored to chair our National Space Council.May 1, 2021
The Biden administration has expressed support for the Artemis program and the Space Force, but Harris is expected to bring additional policies to the fore.
Senior administration officials said national security will continue to be the focus of the council under Harris, as well as strengthening the cybersecurity of US assets in space. It will also prioritize climate change, STEM efforts in science, engineering and mathematics, and space industry workforce diversity and economic development, they added.
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Harris has already shown an interest in US space travel and recently made two calls to astronauts on the International Space Station.
In February, she spoke with Victor Glover, the first black astronaut to complete a long mission to the International Space Station during Black History Month. “You inspire us and remind us of what is possible when we dream big and when we think big,” said Glover Harris, the first woman and woman of color to serve as vice president.
Glover will return to Earth on Sunday (May 1) along with three SpaceX Crew-1 Dragon Resilience teammates to complete a six-month mission to the station.
Shortly after Harris spoke with Glover, she spoke to NASA astronauts Keith Rubin and Shannon Walker. on the space station as part of Women’s Story Month. “They are setting an example for little girls around the world to dream big, lead them with conviction, and see themselves as the scientists and astronauts of tomorrow,” Harris said of the astronauts on March 24, when NASA posted a video of the call.
“Congratulations on the success and just being women in space – you are all such incredible role models,” Harris said in the video.
Rubin returned to Earth in April aboard the Russian Soyuz spacecraft. Walker will return to Earth on Sunday with Glover and astronauts Mike Hopkins from NASA and Soichi Noguchi from Japan.
Email Tariq Malik at tmalik@ or follow him @tariqjmalik. Follow us @Spacedotcom, Facebook and Instagram.