Former Sen. Bill Nelson nominated by President Biden to serve as the next NASA Administrator. In this file photo Sen. Bill Nelson of Florida welcomes the newly arrived Orion crew capsule at a Kennedy Space Center unveiling ceremony on July 2, 2012 and proclaims Mars is NASA’s long term goal for human exploration. Credit: Ken Kremer/kenkremer.com/SpaceUpClose.comFor SpaceUpClose.com & RocketSTEM
CAPE CANAVERAL, FL – President Joe Biden announced today his nomination of former 3 term U.S. Senator Bill Nelson (D) from Florida and veteran space flyer – and who was instrumental in advocating for NASA funding with bipartisan Congressional legislation – to serve as the next NASA Administrator, the White House announced Friday, March 19.
The quick move to nominate Nelson, a long-time space advovate, is receiving wide spread support and also apparently assures NASA will have strong support from within the Biden Administration in both budgets and policy and bodes well for NASA’s Project Artemis goal to again land American on the Moon – and follows Bidens strong expressions of support for NASA thus far for exploring the Moon, Project Artemis and the Mars Perseverance rover.
“Today, President Joe Biden announced his intent to nominate Bill Nelson to serve as National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Administrator,” President Biden said in a White House statement released March 19, 2021.
“In the Senate he was known as the go-to senator for our nation’s space program. He now serves on the NASA Advisory Council.”
The selection of 78 year old Nelson is winning bipartisan praise in Congress as well as the broader space community since Nelson has extensive experience advancing NASA related policy issues from his time serving in the Senate from 2001 to 2019 and earlier in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1979 to 1991.
Biden and Nelson also served together in the U.S. Senate and have a close and deep long-time friendship.
Nelson, who’s confirmation is expected to sail through the Senate easily as the 14th NASA Administrator, would succeed Jim Bridenstine who most recently served with distinction and widespread praise as NASA Administrator for initiating Project Artemis under the Trump Administration and appointed Nelson to the NASA Advisory Council in 2019.
Bridenstine quickly supported Nelson’s nomination as NASA Administrator – in a truly class act – although Nelson initially opposed Bridenstine’s nomination, then a Republican congressman from Oklahoma, saying he preferred a non-politician in the position.
“Bill Nelson is an excellent pick for NASA administrator,” Bridenstine said. “He has the political clout to work with President Biden’s Office of Management and Budget, National Security Council, Office of Science and Technology Policy and bipartisan Members of the House and Senate.
“He has the diplomatic skills to lead an international coalition sustainably to the Moon and on to Mars. 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 led the landmark bipartisan effort in the Senate as a Democrat from Florida with Senator Kay Bailey Hutchinson, Republican from Texas in 2010 to return American astronauts to the Moon which initiated funding for NASA’s human rated Space Launch System (SLS) Moon/Mars mega-rocket and renewed the Orion Crew Module for deep space exploration following the cancellation of Project Constellation under President Obama.
“Nelson chaired the Space Subcommittee in the U.S. House of Representatives for 6 years and in the Senate was the Chairman or Ranking Member of the Senate Space and Science Subcommittee and Ranking Member of the Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation. “
“Most every piece of space and science law has had his imprint, including passing the landmark NASA bill of 2010 along with Senator Kay Bailey Hutchinson,” the White House statement said.
“That law set NASA on its present dual course of both government and commercial missions.”
Nelson’s nomination is also very timely coming less than 1 day after the critically successful ‘Green Run’ hot fire test of the SLS core stage at NASA Stennis that paves the path to launch of the 1st SLS rocket on NASA’s Artemis 1 uncrewed mission to the Moon late this year or early next
“There has been no greater champion, not just for Florida’s space industry, but for the space program as a whole than Bill,” Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Florida, said in a statement. “His nomination gives me confidence that the Biden administration finally understands the importance of the Artemis program, and the necessity of winning the 21st century space race.”
He also flew into space way back in 1986 as a payload specialist astronaut on the STS-61C mission on board the Space Shuttle Columbia for six days while serving in the U.S. House of Representatives.
“In 1986 he flew on the 24th flight of the Space Shuttle. The mission on Columbia, orbited the earth 98 times during six days. Nelson conducted 12 medical experiments including the first American stress test in space and a cancer research experiment sponsored by university researchers,” said the White House
NASA also released a statement about Nelson’s nomination from Acting NASA Administrator Steve Jurczyk.
.@POTUS has announced his intent to nominate former U.S. Senator Bill Nelson as the next NASA Administrator. Statement from acting NASA Administrator Steve Jurczyk: https://t.co/4mhOZ51bAj pic.twitter.com/8RSpaiLjje
— NASA (@NASA) March 19, 2021
“I’m pleased President Biden has nominated former U.S. Senator Bill Nelson to lead our agency. Bill has a proven history of supporting our work here at NASA, and has helped advance America’s position in human exploration, science, aeronautics, and technology. While the Senate must confirm the nomination, I look forward to continuing to work with Bill and the Biden-Harris administration to carry out NASA’s many critical missions in the years to come,” said Acting NASA Administrator Steve Jurczyk in a statement released following today’s nomination by President Joe Biden of Bill Nelson to serve as the 14th NASA administrator.
I have personally met and interviewed Senator Bill Nelson multiple times at the Kennedy Space Center related to Orion, SLS, Starliner crew capsule and more and featured him in my earlier articles at Universe Today, NASA Watch and Spaceflight magazine. My photos are featured herein.
My commentary about the Green Run hot fire test and Project Artemis was featured on WFTV ABC 9 Orlando TV News on March 17,18 and 19.
Watch Ken’s continuing reports about Artemis and NASA missions, SLS, Orion, SpaceX, Starlink, Commercial Crew and Starliner and Crew Dragon and onsite for live reporting of upcoming and recent SpaceX and ULA launches including Crew 1 & 2, Demo-2, ISS, X-37B, Solar Orbiter, Mars 2020 Perseverance and Curiosity rovers, NRO spysats and national security missions and more at the Kennedy Space Center and Cape Canaveral Space Force Station.
Stay tuned here for Ken’s continuing Earth and Planetary science and human spaceflight news: www.kenkremer.com –www.spaceupclose.com – twitter @ken_kremer – email: ken at kenkremer.com
Dr. Kremer is a research scientist and journalist based in the KSC area, active in outreach and interviewed regularly on TV and radio about space topics.
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