Apr 29, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Senate confirms Bill Nelson as NASA administrator

Picture of Bill Nelson

Bill Nelson. Photo: Saul Loeb-Pool/Getty Images

Former Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) was unanimously confirmed by Senate on Thursday to serve as head of NASA.

The big picture: As NASA administrator, Nelson will lead the agency as it works to send astronauts back to the Moon, which would pave the way for an eventual Mars mission.

Our thought bubble, via Axios' Miriam Kramer: Nelson has long been a major supporter of NASA, but his nomination was somewhat controversial within the space industry, with some suggesting that his past critical comments about commercial spaceflight are worrying.

  • During his confirmation hearing, however, Nelson made clear that he wants to support NASA’s relationship with the industry.
  • Nelson will be responsible for working with the agency's commercial partners to fly astronauts to the International Space Station.

The big picture: The NASA administrator position has historically been filled by scientists, former astronauts and business people, but the role has increasingly become more political.

  • "Nelson and President Biden have worked together in the Senate and reportedly have a close relationship, meaning Nelson may be able to make sure the agency gets Biden's attention," Miriam Kramer writes.
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