Jim Bridenstine confirmed as NASA Administrator
Representative Jim Bridenstine, after some 15 months of waiting, has been confirmed as NASA’s 13th administrator. The long-delayed approval was made on Thursday, April 19, 2018. The selection of NASA’s new leader comes after much political wrangling and controversy.
With the U.S. Senate’s confirmation, Bridenstine becomes the 13th NASA administrator, something that almost didn’t happen due to Bridenstine’s views on climate change and LGBT relationships.
The last NASA administrator, former Space Shuttle astronaut Charles Bolden, resigned his post upon the inauguration of Donald Trump. Since that time, the U.S. space agency has been led by acting NASA Administrator Robert Lightfoot.
Lightfoot announced his retirement from the agency last month (March 2018). His retirement date is set for April 30, making Bridenstine’s confirmation timely.
“I’m very pleased to welcome Jim Bridenstine to NASA,” Lightfoot stated via a release issued by NASA. “He joins our great agency at a time when we are poised to accomplish historic milestones across the full spectrum of our work. Jim now takes the reins of this agency and its talented and dedicated workforce. I’m looking forward to him building on our great momentum and sharing our many strengths to help us make the next giants leaps on behalf of humanity. I also want express my heartfelt appreciation to the NASA team for all they accomplished during my time leading the agency.”
Officials within the space community also expressed optimism at what the agency might be capable of with an administrator at the helm.
“The Senate vote today marks the beginning of Jim’s tenure at our nation’s space agency as America prepares to return to the Moon and push further into deep space,” said Dr. Mary Lynne Dittmar, President and CEO of the Coalition via a release issued by the organization. “The Coalition looks forward to working closely with Administrator Bridenstine and his team to support NASA’s human exploration and space science programs.”
Bridenstine, who served Oklahoma as a congressman, was approved by a 50-49 vote. Many former NASA Administrators were confirmed by unanimous votes. Opposition to Bridenstine’s appointment was led by Florida Senator and former shuttle astronaut Bill Nelson.
If not for Arizona Senator Jeff Flake, who was one of those opposing Bridenstine’s approval until he buckled under pressure from Republican leadership (according to a report appearing on Quartz), Bridenstine would likely not have been approved.
Bridenstine’s selection comes at a time when the agency is working to fulfill its obligations to its international partners, but to also develop the super heavy-lift Space Launch System rocket, the crew-rated Orion deep space exploration spacecraft, and to empower commercial firms to handle most low-Earth orbit operations.
“It is an honor to be confirmed by the United States Senate to serve as NASA Administrator,” Bridenstine stated via a release issued by the space agency. “I am humbled by this opportunity, and I once again thank President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence for their confidence. I look forward to working with the outstanding team at NASA to achieve the President’s vision for American leadership in space.”
Jason Rhian spent several years honing his skills with internships at NASA, the National Space Society and other organizations. He has provided content for outlets such as: Aviation Week & Space Technology, Space.com, The Mars Society and Universe Today.