Chirag Parikh

WASHINGTON — The White House has named a former director of space policy at the National Security Council as the new executive secretary of the National Space Council.

The White House announced Aug. 2 that Chirag Parikh will be executive secretary of the council, responsible for its day-to-day activities. The council is chaired by Vice President Kamala Harris.

Parikh was director of space policy at the National Security Council from 2010 to 2016, a time when the space council was inactive. He joined the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency in 2016, serving positions such as deputy director for counterproliferation.

Parikh left the NGA in early 2020 to join Microsoft, where he was senior director of Azure Space, the company’s effort to extend its cloud computing platform to space applications.

The White House’s announcement comes three months after it confirmed that Harris would chair the National Space Council. The council was reestablished by the Trump administration in 2017 after a hiatus of nearly a quarter of a century, but its future under the Biden administration was uncertain in its first months.

At the time, administration officials said they were in the process of hiring an executive secretary but didn’t give a schedule for completing that process or holding the council’s first meeting. One early candidate for the executive secretary post was Kendra Horn, the former congresswoman who chaired the House Science Committee’s space subcommittee in the last Congress.

Administration officials said earlier that the council will maintain “certain core priorities” in civil, commercial and national security space. “The vice president also intends to put her own personal stamp on the council,” an official said in May, citing as examples climate change, cybersecurity and science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education.

The first meeting of the council chaired by Harris is expected in the fall, according to the White House.

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...