White House taps Microsoft Azure Space director for National Space Council executive secretary

U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris has chosen Chirag Parikh to serve as the executive secretary of the National Space Council. Parikh most recently worked as senior director of Microsoft’s Azure Space division. As executive secretary of the National Space Council, Parikh is well-positioned to influence space policy across the government.

Azure Space to Space Council

Prior to his private sector gig at Microsoft, Chirag Parikh directed space policy for the National Security Council as part of the Obama administration. The Trump administration revived the National Space Council in 2017, however, and the Biden administration has maintained the policy development body.

Vice President Harris chairs the National Space Council, and as part of the Parikh announcement, the White House says the first National Space Council meeting under the new presidential administration will take place this fall.

NASA Administrator and former U.S. Senator Bill Nelson shared his support for Parikh in a statement following the announcement:

NASA to Nanoracks

In other space personnel news, commercial space company Nanoracks has announced today that Marshall Smith has been appointed as Senior Vice President of Commercial Space Stations.

Smith leaves NASA after a 38-year-long career with the space agency that included roles such as Deputy Associate Administrator for Systems Engineering & Integration,
Director for Human Lunar Exploration Programs, and more.

From Nanoracks’ announcement today:

“We are fortunate to have someone of Marshall’s experience and reputation to drive our efforts to assure a new generation of commercial space stations,” explained Jeffrey Manber, Chief Executive Officer of Nanoracks. “I’ve gotten to know Marshall very well over the last several years and have come to appreciate his understanding of how to evolve the NASA legacy into the commercial sector.” continued Manber, “Put simply, Marshall gets it. He understands that the innovation and cost efficiencies of the private sector are key to furthering American leadership in space.”

Added Smith, “I believe that Nanoracks will be one of the leaders in securing continued American presence in low-Earth orbit and developing new markets at the Moon and Mars. I was impressed to learn how much Nanoracks has quietly accomplished in advancing the use of in- space platforms and look forward to moving both Nanoracks and the new Huntsville office forward to ensure a vibrant future for commercial space stations and platforms.”

via Nanoracks

In December, Nanoracks installed the first commercial airlock at the International Space Station which happened to be delivered via commercial rockets and spacecrafts from SpaceX — a positive sign for the future of commercial space.


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