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VP Kamala Harris to Lead National Space Council 

By Rachel Jewett | May 3, 2021

Vice President Kamala Harris swears in NASA Administrator Bill Nelson on May 3. Pam Melroy, far left, and Charlie Bolden, second from left, attend the confirmation and Jim Bridenstine attends via livestream. Screenshot via ABC News.

Vice President Kamala Harris will chair the National Space Council, the White House has announced.  

“As I’ve said before: In America, when we shoot for the moon, we plant our flag on it. I am honored to lead our National Space Council,” the vice president tweeted on May 1, commenting on her role. 

The National Space Council is under the White House, and it is the principal unit for space commerce policy activities. Industry groups have applauded the Biden administration’s decision to keep the council in place. President Donald Trump re-established the council in 2017, after it had been inactive since 1993.

Harris follows former Vice President Mike Pence, who was the previous chair of the council. Under Pence, the council issued a number of Space Policy Directives that covered returning humans to the Moon, and establishing the U.S. Space Force

The Biden/Harris ticket was quiet on space policy during the campaign. But so far while in office, President Joe Biden and his administration has decided to keep the National Space Council in place, maintained support for NASA‘s Artemis program, added a senior climate advisor to the agency, tapped NASA to join the White House Climate Task Force, and requested a 6% increase for the agency’s budget in the fiscal year 2022 budget request.

Separately on Monday, Harris swore in Bill Nelson as new NASA administrator after his confirmation by the Senate on April 29. 

“To have the president and vice president have this kind of confidence in an old buddy from the Senate is indeed one of the high honors that anyone could have. It is a new day in space,” Nelson said at his confirmation. 

His confirmation hearing had a nod to bipartisanship and continuity in the space program. Nelson was accompanied by Pam Melroy, the yet to be confirmed deputy administrator, as well as former Administrator Charlie Bolden. His predecessor, Jim Bridenstine, attended the confirmation via livestream, as well. 

Nelson said he wanted previous leadership to be a part of the ceremony “to show the continuity and the bipartisanship with which you run the nation’s space program.”