Chirag Parikh

WASHINGTON — Chirag Parikh, director of space policy at the White House National Security Council since late 2010, is leaving his post for a leadership position at the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency.

As he closed his keynote speech at a Nov. 16 Small Satellites workshop sponsored by the NGA and the U.S. Geospatial Intelligence Foundation, Parikh said he would lead NGA’s Source Strategy Office, which plans and directs the agency’s utilization of data from various available sensors and platforms.

“I’ve committed to the director in the not-so-distant future that I’m going to leave the White House and I’m going to come here to NGA and I’m going to lead the Source Strategy Office,” he said.

Many in the national security space community say Parikh played a pivotal role in alerting U.S. President Barack Obama to what defense and intelligence officials describe as an increasing array of threats to U.S. space capabilities. The Defense Department has since budgeted $5.5 billion for space protection activities over the next five years.

Parikh said NGA Director Robert Cardillo shared some of the agency’s plans at a dinner six months ago. Cardillo is particularly keen on leveraging the emergence of a host of entrepreneurial companies that are launching low-cost imaging constellations and devising new ways to analyze data.

“He was kind of pitching me these thoughts, ideas, and I started reading up on it and started believing it,” Parikh said. “I think there’s an opportunity, again, to bridge the gap between the innovation and the investments.”

Mike Gruss covers military space issues, including the U.S. Air Force and Missile Defense Agency, for SpaceNews. He is a graduate of Miami University in Oxford, Ohio.