Biden-Harris Transition Team Names Landing Party Members

Biden-Harris Transition Team Names Landing Party Members

Joe Biden and Kamala Harris are proceeding with preparations to take office on January 20 even though President Trump has not conceded.  They named members of their Agency Review Teams, or “landing parties” today to interact with current agency officials to help ensure a seamless transition on Inauguration Day. NASA’s team will be led by Ellen Stofan, a former NASA Chief Scientist, and the Department of Commerce team includes former astronaut Kathy Sullivan.

Trump is challenging the election results in a number of states and his head of the General Services Administration, which oversees presidential transitions, is refusing to begin the transition process. It includes allocating money and office space for the incoming team, which is not much of a problem since most of the work is taking place virtually and Biden-Harris reportedly has sufficient funds, but what really matters is access to personnel and records at the Executive Branch agencies.

How far any of these agency landing parties will get until the election results are formalized by the Electoral College in December is up in the air, but here are the lists for NASA, the Department of Commerce (including NOAA ), and the Department of Defense.

The NASA team is led by Ellen Stofan, a planetary scientist who is currently Director of the National Air and Space Museum and a former NASA Chief Scientist.

Joining her is another former NASA Chief Scientist, Waleed Abdalati, an earth scientist specializing in Earth’s ice cover, now at the University of Colorado Boulder. Other former NASA officials are Dave Noble, Deputy Chief of Staff and White House liaison (2009-2012) and David Weaver, Associate Administrator for the Office of Communications (2010-2016).  Pam Melroy is a former astronaut, one of only two women to command space shuttle missions. Bhavya Lal has led studies on a wide array of space policy topics for the Institute of Defense Analyses’ Science and Technology Policy Institute (STPI), which supports NASA, the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, and other government clients. Jedidah Isler is an Assistant Professor of Physics and Astronomy at Dartmouth.  Shannon Valley is a postdoctoral fellow at Georgia Tech’s School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences.

NOAA is part of the Department of Commerce, and its list includes Kathy Sullivan, the first American woman to make a spacewalk and a geologist who served as Administrator of NOAA during the Obama Administration (2014-2017).

No “space” names pop out of the list for DOD.



Note: This article has been updated.

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