May 1, 2021 - Science

Vice President Harris will chair the National Space Council

Kamala Harris smiles in the foreground while speaking with astronaut Victor Glover in space, pictured on a TV to the side of her.

Vice President Kamala Harris speaks with NASA astronaut Victor Glover. Photo: Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson

The Biden administration will keep the National Space Council — reestablished initially by the Trump administration — and Vice President Kamala Harris plans to chair it.

Why it matters: Many see the National Space Council as integral to policy development and inter-agency collaboration as the nation increasingly relies on space for national security and other uses.

Details: The council is designed to bring NASA and a variety of other government agencies together to help establish policies related to civil, commercial and military space.

  • "The council's basic objectives — national security, basic science, technological development, contributions to U.S. economic growth and the commercial sector — will all be maintained," a senior administration official said during a call with reporters Saturday. "To that, I would just want to add that the vice president also intends to put her own personal stamp on the council."
  • That includes an emphasis on STEM, climate change and "sustainable development of commercial space activity," the official noted.

The big picture: The Biden administration has largely kept Trump-era space policies intact so far, supporting the Space Force and NASA's Artemis mission to send people back to the Moon as a proving ground for Mars.

  • But senior administration officials did draw a distinction between how the National Space Council was run under Vice President Mike Pence and how it might be operate under Harris.
  • "I think her approach to this is just going to be to get the job done, and use this to lead our space policy, and not really focus, perhaps as much on big displays," the official said.

What's next: It's unclear when the first meeting of the council will be convened, but senior administration officials said that a top priority now is finding an executive secretary to help run the council day to day.

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