U.S. Rep. Steven Palazzo (R-Miss.) will preside over NASA hearings this year as the newly elected chairman of the House Science, Space and Technology space and aeronautics subcommittee.

Palazzo, whose political party won control of the House in November, replaces Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, the Arizona Democrat grievously wounded Jan. 8 in Tucson by a gunman who killed six people and wounded 19 during the rampage.

“I am honored as a freshman member of Congress to serve as chairman of the Subcommittee on Space and Aeronautics,” Palazzo said in a Jan. 20 statement. “South Mississippi is home to many NASA Assets, but I will work with my colleagues from all NASA-impacted states to help shape the future of space policy.”

Palazzo is among seven new Republican members added Jan. 18 to the newly renamed House Science, Space, and Technology Committee, according to a press release issued by the panel’s chairman, Rep. Ralph Hall (R-Texas).

In addition to Palazzo, the new members, in order of seniority, are Reps. Sandy Adams of Florida, Ben Quayle of Arizona, Chuck Fleischmann of Tennessee, Scott Rigell of Virginia, Mo Brooks of Alabama and Andy Harris of Maryland.

They join Hall and the 10 other Republicans already on the committee, including the committee’s vice chairman, F. James Sensenbrenner of Wisconsin, and Reps. Dana Rohrabacher of California, Roscoe Bartlett of Maryland, Frank Lucas of Oklahoma, Judy Biggert of Illinois, Todd Akin of Missouri, Randy Neugebauer of Texas, and Paul Broun of Georgia.

The committee still has five vacancies. Zachary Kurz, a committee spokesman, said Jan. 19 that some of those vacancies would be filled “in the coming weeks.”