June 18, 2021

Nelson’s appointment to head NASA has received widespread endorsement

2 min read

President Joe Biden has nominated Ex-Senator Bill Nelson to serve as the next Administrator of NASA Agency. He has gained strong endorsement from congress members and the wider space community. Nelson, who is a Democrat who worked three terms in Senate from Florida, was nominated for NASA administrator by the White House on March 19. The announcement followed up weeks of reports that Nelson was the front-runner for the position.

The White House stated in a release that Nelson “had his mark on almost any piece of space and technology legislation, including passing the historic NASA legislation of 2010 with Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison,” referring to the 2010 NASA approval act which Nelson as well as Hutchison, who is a Republican from Texas, drafted after the Obama administration canceled the Constellation initiative. The bill ordered NASA to build a new launch vehicle, Space Launch System, and begin development on the Orion spacecraft and approve the commercial crew project, which was a key priority for the Obama administration.

According to the statement, he was recognized in the Senate as the go-to senator for the country’s space program. The Senate would approve the appointment, which means Nelson can contribute to the Senate Commerce Committee, where he worked as the top Democrat in his final few years. NASA is overseen by this committee, considering his nomination before sending it to the full Senate.

Senator Maria Cantwell (D-Washington), the Senate Commerce Committee chairwoman, also voiced approval for the appointment. In a statement released by the committee, she stated, “Bill Nelson has for a long time been one of NASA’s greatest and most enthusiastic advocates.” “I am confident that he possesses the expertise and political savvy to maintain and expand the United States’ governance in space in both the public as well as private sectors.”

The House Science Committee’s leadership also endorsed Nelson’s nomination. U.S. representative Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-Texas), chair of the full committee, stated in a tweet, “I am delighted that the president has selected Sen. Nelson to head NASA,” noting his “decades of expertise in working with NASA, Congress, as well as the space and aviation sectors.”

“As a representative on the Senate Commerce Committee and as someone who has traveled to space, retired Senator Nelson understands space policy inside and out,” said Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.), chairperson of the space subcommittee. Nelson served as a payload expert on the last shuttle flight until the Challenger disaster in 1986 while sitting in the House of Representatives.

“His expertise, understanding, and close connections to Capitol Hill would be a valuable commodity as the Biden-Harris administration continues to pursue an aggressive program of space exploration and technological research, which will entail congressional approval and funding,” Beyer said.

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