President Biden nominates Bill Nelson to serve as NASA chief

President Joe Biden will nominate former Florida Senator Bill Nelson to lead NASA, in accordance to a White House announcement launched Friday (March 19).

In addition to a profession spent representing the Space Coast within the federal authorities, Nelson’s declare to space fame is that earlier than turning into a senator, he interrupted his profession as an elected official to serve as a payload specialist on a six-day flight of the space shuttle Columbia in 1986.

“In the Senate he was known as the go-to senator for our nation’s space program,” Biden officials wrote in a statement. “Most every piece of space and science law has had his imprint.”

Video: Watch Bill Nelson launch into space aboard Columbia

Democratic leaders of the U.S. House of Representatives committee centered on science welcomed the announcement. “I am pleased that the president has chosen Sen. Nelson to lead NASA, an agency that is one of the crown jewels of the nation’s science and technology enterprise and a source of inspiration throughout the world,” Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX), the committee’s chairperson, said in a statement.

Nelson’s nomination will probably be thought-about by the Senate; if accepted, he’ll change Acting Administrator Steve Jurczyk. Jurczyk took the lead at NASA in January, when fashioned Administrator Jim Bridenstine stepped down on the finish of former President Donald Trump’s first time period.

During Bridenstine’s affirmation hearings in 2018, Nelson voiced concerns about the appointment, given Bridenstine’s private historical past as a politician. “The NASA administrator should be a consummate space professional,” he mentioned. “That’s what this senator wants — a space professional, not a politician, as the head of NASA.”

Bridenstine has already endorsed Nelson’s nomination. 

“Bill Nelson is an excellent pick for NASA administrator,” the previous administrator wrote in an announcement, noting Nelson’s “political clout” and “diplomatic skills” specifically. “Bill Nelson will have the influence to deliver strong budgets for NASA and, when necessary, he will be able to enlist the help of his friend, President Joe Biden. The Senate should confirm Bill Nelson without delay.”

Nelson joined the Florida Legislature in 1972, the federal House of Representatives in 1978, the Florida Cabinet in 1994 and the Senate in 2000.

As a Democrat within the Senate, Nelson represented Florida for 18 years and was a number one architect of the agency’s present technique to pursue each governmental and commercial space exploration, in accordance to the White House assertion.

The Commercial Spaceflight Federation has additionally launched an announcement in help of Nelson’s appointment.

He additionally advocated that the International Space Station’s mission be extended to 2030, 5 years past the date known as for by Trump’s 2019 plan.

Nelson lost a bid for re-election in 2018 to Republican Rick Scott, who had beforehand served as Florida’s governor. Since leaving the Senate, he has served on the NASA Advisory Council, an impartial group that counsels the agency.

During his flight on Columbia, Nelson’s crew deployed a satellite tv for pc and researched astrophysics and supplies science, according to his archived NASA biography.

Email Meghan Bartels at [email protected] or comply with her on Twitter @meghanbartels. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom and on Facebook.

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