Chirag Parikh Tapped for National Space Council ExecSec
WASHINGTON: Chirag Parikh, who was head of space policy at the National Security Council during the Obama administration, has been tapped by Vice President Kamala Harris to serve as executive secretary of the National Space Council.
While led by the vice president, the council, the executive secretary is the de-facto policy expert behind the curtain. (Harris has little background at all in space policy issues.) The post was held by Scott Pace during the Trump administration, who came from George Washington University where he led the Space Policy Institute, and to where he has now returned — but had previously served at NASA, the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, at the Commerce Department’s Office of Space Commerce.
Harris is planning to host the first meeting of the council in the fall. She announced earlier this year that the core agenda of the council would remain steady: national security, basic science, technological development, and growing the space economy. The Trump administration focused heavily on the latter, issuing a number of Space Policy Directives focused directly on bolstering US commercial industry, including pushing for the expansion of operations to mining asteroids and the Moon.
At the same time, the Biden administration intends to put its own stamp on the work. According to a Harris spokesperson, those elements will be:
- Support sustainable development of commercial space activity;
- Advance peaceful norms and responsible behaviors in space;
- Achieve peaceful exploration objectives with our allies and partners;
- Address climate change;
- Advance Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) education;
- Promote diversity in the workforce and promoting regional economic development; and
- Enhance cybersecurity in space systems.
Parikh — who is from Ohio and a devoted fan of the Cleveland Indians baseball team, recently, and perhaps aptly, renamed the Guardians — was most recently at Microsoft Azure, where he led the company’s initiative to provide mobile satellite data centers and tools to operators of large satellite constellations. (He also is the ‘father’ of the annual Space Ball, an outing to the Washington Nationals park attended by much of the DC space community.)
Parikh was at the NSC between 2010 and 2016, and spearheaded the Obama administration’s 2010 National Space Policy, as well as its later efforts to counter burgeoning efforts by China and Russia to develop counter-space capabilities that represented a major shift in long-standing US policy.
Prior to the White House, Parikh had been in the Intelligence community — including a stint at as deputy national intelligence officer for science and technology, and as a senior executive at the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency. He began his career an aerospace engineer at the National Air and Space Intelligence Center.