The Biden administration over the weekend announced that Vice President Harris will helm the National Space Council, just as her predecessor, former Vice President Mike Pence, did before her.
“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 following the announcement.
The council, which helps shape important national space policies and national security strategies related to space for the White House, was reestablished under the Trump administration by executive order in 2017 after it had gone dormant following the end of former President George H.W Bush’s term in 1993.
A senior administration official said that Harris plans to put her own “personal stamp on the council,” which will include focusing on issues like climate change, STEM, diversity in the work force and “supporting sustainable development of commercial space activity.” She will also work to “achieve peaceful exploration with allies and partners,” as well enhance cyber security in space systems.
A senior official also confirmed that former Senator Bill Nelson of Florida, who was approved by the U.S. Senate to be the next NASA administrator, will formally be sworn in by Harris on Monday.
“The Vice President is the perfect person to lead the federal government’s space policy,” said Nelson, who in 1986 became the second sitting member of Congress to fly in space when he served as a payload specialist aboard the NASA Shuttle Columbia.
“Vice President Lyndon Johnson was the first chair of the National Space Council when America initially ventured beyond Earth. Now, Vice President Harris will coordinate our nation’s efforts to ensure America continues to lead in space. It is an exciting time for our space program,” he said.