Indian American appointed as lead associate at NASA’s newly formed office


Earlier this month, the US space agency NASA had created a new office devoted to technology and policy issues, part of a restructuring that includes creating a new space security position at the civil space agency.

NASA created the Office of Technology, Policy, and Strategy (OTPS) by merging the Office of Strategic Engagements and Assessments with the Office of the Chief Technologist, on November 1.

To lead this newly created department, NASA appointed an Indian American Bhavya Lal the as the associate administrator for OTPS.

Bhavya Lal served on the Biden administration’s transition team for NASA and then stayed on as acting chief of staff and, most recently, senior adviser for budget and finance.

Her new Office of Technology, Policy and Strategy will report to Deputy Administrator Pam Melroy. Melroy and Lal were both members of Biden’s Agency Review Team, or “landing party,” between the November 2020 election and the January 2021 inauguration, the report said.

The new office will be responsible for providing what the agency described in a statement as “data- and evidence-driven technology, policy, and strategy advice” for NASA leadership.

“As we continue to push the boundaries of exploration, OTPS and these leadership positions will ensure our cutting-edge technology, strategy, and policy shape our agency’s success,” NASA Administrator Bill Nelson said in a statement.

“We also are increasing our analysis and guidance on geopolitical issues and risks that NASA, or the space industry, may be facing.”

The changes, which took effect immediately, won the endorsement of a former NASA official, Mike Gold, who was the former associate administrator for space policy and partnerships at NASA and currently executive vice president for civil space and external affairs at Redwire.

Gold said, “My excitement for the formation of the new Office of Technology, Policy and Strategy is only exceeded by my excitement for its leader,” said

Lal, he noted, has extensive experience in space issues from her time at the Science and Technology Policy Institute, examining topics ranging from space nuclear power to low Earth orbit commercialization. “Dr. Lal is an unparalleled choice for this position,” Gold said. “If Dr. Lal didn’t literally write the book on a topic, she at least wrote a report on it.”

Lal has a B.S. and M.S. in nuclear engineering as well as a master’s in technology and policy from MIT, plus a Ph.D. in public policy and administration from George Washington University, her bio notes.

While at STPI she led studies on topics across the breadth of NASA programs that were conducted for NASA or the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, it said.