White House revamps membership of National Space Council advisory group

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WASHINGTON — The White House announced the new membership of an advisory group of the National Space Council Dec. 16 with wholesale changes in the roster reflecting a new emphasis on climate change and workforce issues.

Vice President Kamala Harris, chair of the National Space Council, announced a roster of 30 members of the Users’ Advisory Committee (UAG), the advisory group that supports the council on various space topics. Their membership on the committee is pending a formal appointment by the NASA administrator, a formality linked to NASA’s role in hosting the UAG.

The new UAG members, the White House announcement said, “represent a cross-section of companies and organizations that support the United States’ large and highly skilled space workforce; users of space services, including climate scientists and agriculture providers; individuals focused on developing the next generation of space professionals; and leading experts in space.”

The board will be chaired by Lester Lyles, a retired U.S. Air Force general who also serves as chair of the NASA Advisory Council. Harris announced the selection of Lyles at the most recent National Space Council meeting Sept. 8 in Houston. Lyles, who previously served on the UAG, succeeded James Ellis, a retired admiral who is no longer on the UAG.

Of the 27 members who were previously appointed to the UAG during the Trump administration, only seven people, including Lyles, were retained. Five are executives of major aerospace companies: Tory Bruno; chief executive of United Launch Alliance; Gwynne Shotwell, president of SpaceX; Bob Smith, chief executive of Blue Origin; James Taiclet, president and chief executive of Lockheed Martin; and Kathy Warden, chairwoman and chief executive of Northrop Grumman. The sixth is Mandy Vaughn, who was previously on the UAG in her previous role as president of Virgin Orbit subsidiary VOX Space and returns as a “subject matter expert.”

The new UAG includes several people with expertise in climate science and the environment, reflecting a priority that Harris set at the first meeting of the council she chaired in December 2021. They include Nancy Colleton, president of the Institute for Global Environmental Strategies; Kate Marvel, a climate scientist at Project Drawdown, a climate change organization; and Jeremy Williams, head of Climate Corporation, part of Bayer Crop Science.

Education and workforce experts are also represented on the UAG, reflecting another priority that Harris set for the council. They include Lance Bush, president and chief executive of the Challenger Center; Daniel Hastings, head of the department of aeronautics and astronautics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology; and Harold Lee Martin, chancellor of North Carolina A&T State University.

A third priority that Harris announced for the council was promoting norms and rules of behavior in space. The UAG includes executives of two companies involved in space sustainability: Ron Lopez, president and managing director of Astroscale U.S., and Melanie Stricklan, co-founder and chief executive of Slingshot Aerospace.

The UAG does include executives of several other space companies, including Amazon Project Kuiper, Ball Aerospace, Boeing, Maxar and Planet. “LEO constellations like Project Kuiper play an important role in the growing space economy, and this is a great opportunity to help shape the nation’s long-term space policy and strategy goals,” said Rajeev Badyal, vice president of technology of Amazon Project Kuiper and a new member of the UAG, said in a statement to SpaceNews.

However, some companies previously represented on the UAG are not included on the new roster, such as Aerojet Rocketdyne, Relativity Space and Sierra Nevada Corporation. The New UAG also lacks current or former politicians. The previous roster included the governor of Alabama, lieutenant governor of Florida and former congressman John Culberson, who was chair of the appropriations subcommittee that funded NASA.

The earlier UAG included four former astronauts, none of whom are returning: Buzz Aldrin, Eileen Collins, Harrison Schmitt and David Wolf. The new UAG includes Charlie Bolden, former astronaut and NASA administrator, as well as Sian Proctor, who was pilot of the Inspiration4 private astronaut mission launched by SpaceX in September 2021.

The White House announcement did not state when the full UAG will first meet or if it will retain the same structure of subcommittees the earlier version had.


National Space Council Users’ Advisory Group membership

* denotes members retained from the previous version of the group

  • * General (USAF, Ret) Lester Lyles, UAG Chair
  • Mr. Rajeev Badyal, VP of Technology, Amazon Project Kuiper
  • Mr. Charles Bolden, Former NASA Administrator and Former Astronaut
  • * Mr. Salvatore T. Bruno, CEO, United Launch Alliance
  • Dr. Lance Bush, President & CEO, Challenger Center
  • Ms. Bridget Chatman, Chairwoman, Women in Aerospace
  • Mr. Theodore “Ted” Colbert, CEO, Boeing Defense, Space & Security
  • Ms. Nancy Colleton, President, Institute for Global Environmental Strategies
  • Ms. Karina Drees, President, Commercial Spaceflight Federation
  • Mr. Eric Fanning, President and CEO, Aerospace Industries Association
  • Dr. Daniel Hastings, Head, Department of Aeronautics & Astronautics, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • Ms. Dawne Hickton, Subject Matter Expert
  • Mr. Daniel Jablonsky, President & CEO, Maxar Technologies
  • Dr. Dave Kaufman, President, Ball Aerospace
  • Mr. Patrick Lin, Director of the Ethics & Emerging Sciences Program, California Polytechnic State University
  • Mr. Ron Lopez, President & Managing Director, Astroscale US
  • Dr. Harold Lee Martin, Chancellor of North Carolina Agricultural & Technical State University
  • Dr. Kate Marvel, Climate Scientist at Project Drawdown
  • Maj Gen (Ret) Roosevelt “Ted” Mercer, CEO & Director, Virginia Space
  • Dr. Marla Perez-Davis, Former Director, NASA Glenn Research Center
  • Dr. Sian Proctor, Geoscience Professor, South Mountain Community College
  • * Ms. Gwynne Shotwell, President & COO, SpaceX
  • * Dr. Robert Smith, CEO, Blue Origin
  • * Mr. James Taiclet, President & CEO, Lockheed Martin
  • * Dr. Mandy Vaughn, Subject Matter Expert
  • * Ms. Kathy Warden, Chairwoman & CEO, Northrop Grumman Corp
  • Mr. Robbie Schingler, Jr., Co-Founder & Chief Strategy Officer, Planet Labs
  • Ms. Melanie Stricklan, Co-Founder & CEO, Slingshot Aerospace
  • Dr. Jeremy Williams, Head, Climate Corporation & Digital Farming, Bayer Crop Science
  • Ms. Katrina Harden Williams, Middle School Teacher, Ames Middle School, Iowa