Harris Selection of Chirag Parikh to Lead Space Council Wins Wide Praise

Harris Selection of Chirag Parikh to Lead Space Council Wins Wide Praise

Vice President Kamala Harris has chosen Chirag Parikh to be Executive Secretary of the White House National Space Council. Harris chairs the Space Council, which will hold its first meeting under her leadership this fall. Parikh is very well known and respected in the space policy community and the announcement is being met with wide praise.

Chirag Parikh, newly appointed Executive Secretary of the White House National Space Council.

Parikh was the space policy point person on the White House National Security Council (NSC) during most of President Obama’s term. Obama, like his two immediate predecessors, decided not to constitute a National Space Council. Instead, national space policy was coordinated jointly through the NSC and the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP).

President Trump reinstituted the Space Council, which by law is chaired by the Vice President. Scott Pace was the Space Council’s Executive Secretary throughout the Trump/Pence term. The Space Council was very active, coordinating domestic and international policy across the civil, commercial, and national security space sectors.

President Biden decided to keep the Council and Harris now chairs it. The space community is eagerly waiting to learn about her space priorities. She has not focused on space issues amidst her many responsibilities so far. She swore in NASA Administrator Bill Nelson and has had conversations with astronauts aboard the International Space Station, but that is about all.

Parikh is an Executive Branch policy veteran. An aerospace engineer, he worked at the Air Force’s National Air and Space Intelligence Center, then was Deputy National Intelligence Officer for Science and Technology in the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI), then Obama’s NSC Director of Space Policy, then Senior Executive at the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA).

In January 2020, he left the government to join Microsoft as Senior Director for Azure Space, but now has decided to return, prompting cheers from many in the space policy world.

Bill Nelson, NASA Administrator, said he is looking forward to working with Parikh.

The heads of NOAA’s satellite division and the FAA’s space office offered their best wishes in statements to SpacePolicyOnline.com.

“It is nice to welcome back to the federal fold an experienced space executive. We have worked with Chirag in several different space roles over the years and look forward to a productive relationship with him now as the NSP Executive Secretary.”  Dr. Stephen Volz, assistant administrator, NOAA’s Satellite and Information Service.

“I personally know Chirag, and he is a tremendous selection for this critical role. The FAA Commercial Space Transportation team looks forward to continuing our collaborative relationship with the National Space Council.”  Wayne Monteith, FAA Associate Administrator of Commercial Space Transportation

Gen. Jay Raymond, Chief of Space Operations, U.S. Space Force, later tweeted his congratulations as well.

Scott Pace, who returned to his position as Director of the Space Policy Institute at George Washington University after his three-and-a-half years at the Space Council, called Parikh an “excellent choice.”

“I think Chirag is an excellent choice. While he has had long experience in the national security space community, he also has an excellent understanding of civil and commercial space activities as well as the important role of international partners. I believe he will do an exceptional job for the Vice President in bringing together all stakeholders to advance long-term national space interests.” — Scott Pace

Others from the space policy community have weighed in today, too, in public statements or comments to SpacePolicyOnline.com.

Victoria Samson, Director of the Washington Office of the Secure World Foundation, called Parikh “extremely well-suited for the role.” She thinks “the space policy community is in general very happy with the announcement — looking forward to seeing Chirag on the job!”

In a tweet thread, the Commercial Spaceflight Federation applauded the appointment and said it would work with the Space Council on a long list of topics including expanding sustainable development of commercial space activities, advancing peaceful norms and responsible behaviors in space and addressing climate change. The Aerospace Industry Association’s Vice President of Space Systems, Mike French, said the appointment will allow the Space Council “to quickly resume important interagency activities and affirm the Administration’s position in key policy areas.”

User Comments

SpacePolicyOnline.com has the right (but not the obligation) to monitor the comments and to remove any materials it deems inappropriate.  We do not post comments that include links to other websites since we have no control over that content nor can we verify the security of such links.