The White House has confirmed that its core space body will now be run by Chirag Parikh, a senior director for Microsoft's space-based cloud service and a veteran of the intelligence community. The announcement was made on Monday by Vice President Kamala Harris who chairs the National Space Council.
The appointment of Chirag will get the ball rolling on Biden's space policy in the coming months. Chirag's roles are also expected to be quite expansive with a special focus on cybersecurity for space assets. A senior administration official noted that the former Microsoft employee will also advise the administration on how satellites can be used in fighting climate change among a host of other things.
The National Space Council was revived back in 2017 by former US President Donald Trump after it had been dormant since 1993. Chirag's appointment means that he will be succeeding Scott Pace who will leave his role with immediate effect. Chirag Parikh is no stranger to the public service. He served for two years as the deputy national intelligence officer for science and technology at the US intelligence services.
He was also the head of the National Security Council’s space policy under President Obama where he served for six years. Chirag left public service to join the Microsoft cloud service business. At the time of his appointment by the Biden admin, Parikh worked as a senior director for Azure Space, a cloud platform from Microsoft that focuses on satellites and space.
His appointment was widely welcomed by stakeholders in the space industry with many analysts lauding his experience and track record that he brings to the table. Parikh is also seen as the perfect man for the job due to his ability to deal with overlapping bureaucracies that are associated with the National Space Council.
After all, the agency brings together a wide range of cabinet-level officials from various dockets including the NASA administrator, the director of national intelligence, and others. There are also quarterly meetings between the council and other global stakeholders in the space industry.
It is more all less an interagency coordination role and since the former Microsoft employee has been there before, he is perfectly suited to take over the mantle. When Joe Biden came into the office early this year, it wasn't clear if the administration intended to keep the National Space Council.
However, when the president tapped his Vice President to take over the mantle, many felt that the Biden administration was ready to continue the work that former president Donald Trump had started. It is by far one of the rarest cases where the new administration has aligned with Trump from a policy point of view.
The former president was a key backer of NASA's Artemis program that wants to land humans on the moon. It seems like his successor is also enthusiastic about this prospect. Parikh is expected to begin work immediately and would bring a world of experience drawn both from his time in the public service and his stint at Microsoft.