WASHINGTON — Jeff Bingham, a senior aide for the Republican minority on the U.S. Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee who is credited with shaping parts of the 2010 law that resurrected elements of the canceled Constellation Moon exploration program, will retire before the summer is out.

Bingham, who began his second stint on Capitol Hill in 2005, sent news of his retirement to colleagues in an email the week of May 6. A copy of that email was obtained by SpaceNews.

“I’ve agreed to stay available for an unspecified period of time as they transition,” Bingham wrote in a May 17 email to SpaceNews. “They [committee members] are considering applicants and we’ll just take it as it comes.”

Bingham said his last day likely would be “sometime within the next three to six weeks.”

Bingham had reported to former Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas), a fierce protector of the Johnson Space Center in Houston who until her retirement in January had been the ranking Republican on the Senate Commerce Committee, which has jurisdiction over NASA. That position has since been filled by Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.). 

Before returning to Capitol Hill in 2005, Bingham worked in NASA’s legislative affairs office.

In his farewell email to colleagues, Bingham identified some of the staff members who will support Thune, including Benjamin “Bailey” Edwards, who will manage staffers working space issues for committee Republicans. Edwards, a former House aide, will also continue working on aviation safety issues for the committee. Under Edwards, Missye Brickell, who has clerked for the committee and spent a year on Hutchison’s staff in 2007, will take over science issues. Also reporting to Edwards will be “a new person to focus on the space subject matter,” Bingham wrote.

Dan Leone is the NASA reporter for SpaceNews, where he also covers other civilian-run U.S. government space programs and a growing number of entrepreneurial space companies. He joined SpaceNews in 2011.Dan earned a bachelor's degree in public communications...