Vice President Kamala Harris announced on November 5 that she will convene the National Space Council for the first time in early December. Harris will announce the meeting on December 1 during a visit to NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland, according to a White House official speaking on the condition of anonymity. Bill Nelson, the NASA Administrator, and other authorities will accompany her on the tour, where they will analyze the first images from Landsat 9 Earth research mission, which was launched on September 27.
The official didn’t go into detail about the impending meeting’s agenda. According to the official, the Goddard visit will focus on the center’s climate and space technology work, which includes Landsat 9, the GOES series of geostationary weather satellites, and On-orbit Servicing, Assembly, and Manufacturing-1 mission, which is being developed to demonstrate satellite servicing technologies.
In May, Harris revealed that she would serve as chair of the National Space Council under the Biden administration. After almost a quarter-century of inactivity, the Trump administration resurrected the council in 2017. Officials indicated at the period that Harris would give the council a “personal stamp” by focusing on climate change, cybersecurity, and education.
Apart from the appointment of executive secretary, Chirag Parikh in August, there had been no public development on the council since then. Officials from the White House claimed at the time that the council’s inaugural meeting would take place in the fall. Harris was “extremely enthused” by her work as chair of the council, according to Parikh, who spoke at the 36th Space Symposium on August 25. “We’ve already had numerous sessions with her, and she’s fully involved, asking all the appropriate questions, including the difficult ones,” he said.
During a brief presentation to the Advisory Committee for Commercial Remote Sensing (ACCRES) on November 4, he did not go into detail about the council’s activities, instead of presenting comments on what concerns the committee should address with commercial imaging rules and technologies.
Diane Howard, who is a space law specialist who worked previously at the Office of Space Commerce, has been hired as the council’s new head of commercial space policy, according to Parikh. He stated he had to brief Harris, so he cut the briefing short. Don Graves, deputy secretary of commerce, said he meets with Parikh every other week to debate operations at the department, which also encompasses the Commercial Remote Sensing Regulatory Affairs (CRSRA) office, Office of Space Commerce, and other space activities within NOAA, at the ACCRES meeting. He remarked, “It’s something on which the entire administration is focused.”
Graves also used his remarks to dispel the notion that the Commerce Department is not as involved in space programs as the previous administration was. This has included anything from the Office of Space Commerce’s lack of evident progress on STM to Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo’s absence of space statements.