Updated at 1:55 p.m. EST, with Nelson’s statement.
WASHINGTON – Vice President Kamala Harris will put her “personal mark” on the National Space Council as it tackles existing and new priorities under the Biden administration.
Senior administration officials, speaking on a call with reporters on May 1, confirmed that the administration would retain the National Space Council, an interagency body used to coordinate space policy within the federal government. The vice-president chairs the council by statute.
The White House announced on March 29 that the council, relaunched by the Trump administration in 2017 after a hiatus of nearly a quarter of a century, would continue under the new administration. At the time, however, they provided few details on how it worked.
During the call, officials said they were in the process of hiring a new executive secretary who takes care of the day-to-day operations of the council. The hiring process is “well underway,” said a senior administration official, but did not estimate when this person would be hired.
It is also not known when the first official council meeting will take place. “The vice president will engage stakeholders, engage members of this board throughout the process,” one official said. “And then when we think it’s useful to have the first full meeting, we’ll have the first full meeting.”
The board will be structured similarly to previous administrations and will also retain the User Advisory Group created by the Trump administration to advise the board as it works on a range of political issues.
“There have always been some fundamental priorities, I think, that we share with previous administrations that had a National Space Council,” one official said. “It is to maintain our leadership in the space of civil, commercial and national security, and to use it to develop our fundamental science and our technological advantage and our national security”
Officials said Harris would shape the issues the council addresses. “The vice president also intends to make her own mark on the board,” said one official, citing climate change, cybersecurity and science, technology, engineering and education as examples. mathematics (STEM).
Other topics the council will address, as outlined in the call, including the sustainable development of commercial space activities, advancing standards and behaviors for peaceful space activities and international cooperation in space exploration.
“I think his approach to this will be just to get the job done, and use it to drive our space policy, and not really focus maybe as much on the big screens as on the job being done,” he said. declared an official.
White House officials have not said whether the council will support the development of space policy guidelines, such as those issued under the Trump administration. In February, the White House said the National Security Council would be responsible for “national security memoranda” that would replace space policy guidelines. This led to speculation at the time that the administration would not maintain the National Space Council.
Officials took the call to point out that the White House in general, and the president and vice president in particular, had been active in space for the first 100 days of administration. These milestones range from formal approvals from NASA and the US Space Force’s Artemis lunar exploration program to outreach events, such as the calls Harris made to astronauts on the International Space Station.
The White House also announced during the call that Harris would swear to Bill Nelson as a NASA administrator on May 3. The Senate confirmed Nelson’s appointment as head of the agency by unanimous consent on April 29. place during this swearing-in, but declined to give further details.
“The vice president is the perfect person to lead the space policy of the federal government, which is increasingly complex, with many countries in space,” Nelson said on May 1 in a NASA statement about by Harris. “Vice President Harris will coordinate our nation’s efforts to ensure America continues to dominate in space. It is an exciting time for our space program. “