Senate considering Bill Nelson as NASA administrator

President Joe Biden nominated former Florida senator to lead NASA during critical time

President Biden officially taps former Florida Sen. Bill Nelson to lead NASA
President Biden officially taps former Florida Sen. Bill Nelson to lead NASA

Former Sen. Bill Nelson will go before the U.S. Senate Wednesday during a confirmation hearing where he is expected to be confirmed as NASA’s next administrator.

The nomination hearing for Nelson, 78, is scheduled for Wednesday at 10 a.m. The hearing comes one day before NASA prepares to launch four astronauts on a SpaceX rocket to the space station. The Crew-2 launch will mark the third liftoff with astronauts from Florida since 2011.

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Sen. Maria Cantwell, the chair of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, will convene a nomination hearing.

The Senate will also consider Lina Khan, as Biden’s nomination to be the Commissioner for the Federal Trade Commission.

The nomination hearing will include opening statements and testimony. A live feed of the hearing will be available here.

President Joe Biden officially nominated the Brevard County native to lead the space agency on March 19 after weeks of speculation he planned to tap the former Democratic senator for the role.

Nelson was first elected to U.S. Congress in 1986, and during his time as a representative of Florida, he became the first member of the House to go to space.

Nelson flew onboard Space Shuttle Columbia’s STS-61 mission in 1986. If confirmed he will be the third NASA administrator to have achieved spaceflight.

The Florida Democrat was elected to the U.S. Senate in 2000 and was defeated in the 2018 election by former Republican Florida Gov. Rick Scott, who holds the seat now.

If confirmed, Nelson will lead the U.S. space agency during a critical time NASA plans to return humans to the moon in the next three years under the Artemis program.

Former NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine stepped down in January, the day Biden was sworn into office. Deputy Administrator Jim Morhard also left NASA on the final day of the Trump administration.

Steve Jurczyk stepped in as the acting NASA administrator on Jan. 20. He was previously the associate administrator.

Nelson’s nomination has received bipartisan support from his former Senate members and from the most recent NASA administrator. However, some critics said they expected Biden to nominate a woman to lead the agency.

The Senate is expected to confirm Nelson to lead NASA.


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