Assistant Secretary of Defense John Plumb testifies before the House Armed Services Committee in Washington, D.C. March 30, 2023. (DoD photo by EJ Hersom)

WASHINGTON — John Plumb, assistant secretary of Defense for Space Policy, will exit the Pentagon come May, Breaking Defense has learned.

In response to an inquiry, a DoD spokesperson confirmed that Plumb “announced to his team his intent to depart in early May.” Plumb has been in the role since March 2022, becoming the first individual to man the space policy role created by Congress in the 2020 National Defense Authorization Act.

Before entering the building, Plumb worked as the government relations head at the Aerospace Corporation.

While in the Pentagon, Plumb emerged as a key public figure for the department’s messaging around space. Among his notable impacts, he advocated for easing classification on space programs, crafted a new strategy for protecting US military and intelligence-gathering satellites, and helped set up the transition of DoD space tracking to the Commerce Department.

His exit comes at a time when the department is grappling with its expanded role in space. Currently, the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO), the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) and the Space Force are locked in a fight over who will have procurement rights over US space-based intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance system.