On Wednesday, Vice President Kamala Harris chaired her first meeting of the National Space Council (NSpC) of the new administration. Before this meeting, we were unsure how Biden’s NSpC would work, but it’s clear now it will continue the work President Trump forged – but now also climate change.
Five new members added by President Biden
The NSpC was first created in 1958 and then revised and disbanded through the decades by several presidents. However, in 2017 President Trump again brought back the council as the growth in the private space sector and the goal to return to the Moon became a big part of his policy.
With a new administration with different goals moving into full swing, it brings changes to what the NSpC will do. First, President Biden signed an executive order adding five new members:
- Secretary of the Interior
- Secretary of Agriculture
- Secretary of Labor
- Secretary of Education
- National Climate Advisor
The additions push the council to add two new goals that Trump’s variation lacked: climate change and STEM education. So, in addition to the rules and norms of space, these three topics were the main point of discussion of the council’s meeting.
Council’s role in regulating space
Harris began the meeting coming out against Russia’s anti-satellite test that put the lives onboard the International Space Station and our access to space at risk. Harris called for the council to take the lead on regulating the use of space and work on building cooperation between countries on how to act in space.
Without clear norms for the responsible use of space, we stand the real risk of threats to our national and global security.Vice President Kamala Harris
These rules will be larger than just the Artemis Accords, which the council still supports, and will expand to the commercial sector.
New members stregthen STEM and climate change focus
The NSpC will expand its grasp on how space will help combat climate change and agriculture data gathering. Assets in space are no longer just communications, science, and defense missions but include Earth observation tools used by farmers, first responders, and more. This is why the secretaries of the Interior and Agriculture, alongside the President’s National Climate Advisor, were added to the council.
This was not a massive surprise as Biden’s administration has focused on combating climate change. Space has always played a significant role in climate studies and will only become more critical as time goes on.
Finally, STEM engagement – nothing is more important than a well-educated workforce. The NSpC will push government agencies to create programs to educate and inspire the next generation of civil servants and private sector employees. They will also continue to make the US government’s internship program stronger and more appealing to college students than it already is.
Space Explored’s take
Up until this point, we were unsure how serious space would be taken in this administration. While early signs pointed to a continuation of the status quo, which is not typical in politics, it wasn’t until now that we’ve truly seen where Biden will take the government’s space efforts.
The support to continue key Trump-era programs like returning to the Moon, the Artemis Accords, and commercial growth is refreshing. A common goal in an industry that takes years or decades to see significant progress is important for keeping humanity moving forward.
The addition of climate change and STEM education to its mission is a bonus. Bolstering these important fields will be crucial if humanity is to continue exploring the stars.