For SpaceUpClose.com & RocketSTEM
CAPE CANAVERAL, FL – Former 3 term U.S. Senator Bill Nelson (D) from Florida and veteran space flyer was sworn in today, May 3, as the 14th NASA Administrator by Vice President Kamala Harris after he was unanimously confirmed by the U.S. Senate last week following his formal nomination for the prestigious post by President Joe Biden.
Nelson was sworn in as NASA Administrator by VP Harris after he was given the oath of office this morning in a ceremony that took place at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building near the White House in Washington, D.C. as her first act as Chair of the National Space Council.
The ceremony was conducted in the presence of a moon rock gathered on the Apollo 16 moon landing mission by astronaut John Young.
Returning American astronauts to the lunar surface will be at the top of Nelson’s agenda especially – after the April 29 arrival of the 1st SLS core stage at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida for the Artemis 1 uncrewed mission to the Moon and back NET late 2021
Nelson takes over from former NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine who served with great distinction and initiated Project Artemis under former President Trump and who resigned as is custom at the end of the former Presidents term on Jan 20.
Since January Steve Jurczyk has filled in the role as chief of the agency as acting NASA Administrator – most recently last week presiding over the Administrator duties during the NASA SpaceX Crew-2 launch to the International Space Station and the return to Earth of Crew-1 over the weekend.
“To have the president and vice president have this kind of confidence in an old buddy from the Senate is indeed one of the high honors that anyone could have,” Nelson said after being sworn in today.
“I am honored by the President’s nomination and the Senate vote … I will try to merit that trust. Onward and upward!”
The ceremony was attended by two former NASA Administrators from both political parties – including Bridenstine (via video conference) as well as his predecessor Charlie Bolden (in person) under the Obama Administration.
“Congratulations, Mr. Administrator, for all the work you’ve done and all you’ve dedicated to our country,” Vice President Harris said. “I couldn’t agree more that this has to be about our nation and what is best for our nation, unencumbered by partisan politics, but based on what we know is the right thing to do.”
“I was glad to be joined today by my rock, my wife, Grace, my children, deputy administrator nominee Col. Pam Melroy, and former NASA Administrators Charlie Bolden and Jim Bridenstine, whose standing with me symbolizes the continuity of purpose and bipartisanship,” Nelson added. “It’s an incredible time for the aerospace sector, and I’m excited to lead NASA’s workforce into an exciting future!”
The U.S. Senate confirmed Nelson rather quickly and very easily to serve as the NASA administrator April 29 by unanimous vote after he was nominated by Biden on March 18.
“In his new role at NASA, Nelson will lead the nation’s space program as it carries out critical missions, including landing the first woman and first person of color on the Moon with the Artemis program, expanding climate change research, fostering innovation and enhancing the U.S. economy and STEM workforce,” NASA said in a statement.
Nelson’s nomination as 14th Administrator of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration won high praise from both parties and across the board by much of the space community.
Nelson, a long-time space advocate, received widespread 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.
The 78 year old Nelson won 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.
“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.”
Biden and Nelson also served together in the U.S. Senate and have a close and deep long-time friendship.
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.
“I am honored by the President’s nomination and the Senate vote,” Nelson said after the Senate confirmation vote April 29. “I will try to merit that trust. Onward and upward!”
“I’m happy to welcome Bill to the NASA family,” said Jurczyk after the vote. “It’s been an amazing year for NASA and our commercial and international partners, and I look forward to working with Bill and the Biden-Harris Administration to build on the incredible momentum we’ve built so far. It has been an honor to serve as acting administrator, but it’s the NASA workforce that makes the agency one-of-a-kind. Thank you for all you do to advance NASA’s critical missions.”
Nelson 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
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. Several my photos are featured herein
Watch my commentary about Nelson as NASA Administrator in this CBS 6 Orlando TV News story from today:
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.
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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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