Rep. Brian Babin (R-Texas), shown celebrating his victory in a March 2014 primary, has been named chairman of the House Science space subcommittee. Credit: Dr. Brian Babin for Congress

WASHINGTON — Rep. Brian Babin (R-Texas), a first-term House member whose distrct includes NASA’s Johnson Space Center, will take over as chairman of the space subcommittee of the House Science Committee, the committee announced June 5.

“It is an honor for me to serve as chairman of the subcommittee on space,” Babin said in a statement announcing the change. “I believe we are on the verge of significant space advancements and I look forward to doing all I can to create an environment for success.”

Babin succeeds Rep. Steven Palazzo (R-Miss.), who had chaired the subcommittee since 2011. The announcement did not give a reason for the leadership change, but a committee aide said June 5 it was because Palazzo joined the House Appropriations Committee in March. Palazzo, the aide added, will remain on the full House Science Committee.

Palazzo steps down from the chairmanship after shepherding through the committee two key pieces of legislation, a NASA authorization bill and a commercial space launch bill. The House passed the commercial space bill May 21, while the NASA authorization bill, approved by the committee April 30, is still pending floor action.

Jeff Foust writes about space policy, commercial space, and related topics for SpaceNews. He earned a Ph.D. in planetary sciences from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a bachelor’s degree with honors in geophysics and planetary science...