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Thu, Sep 14, 2017

NASA Administrator Nominee Bridenstine Has His Supporters On Capitol Hill

But The Former Naval Aviator Also Has His Critics

The nomination of Oklahoma Republican Congressman Jim Bridenstine, tapped by President Donald Trump as the next NASA administrator, is gaining some support on Capitol Hill, but there is also serious opposition to the nomination from both sides of the aisle.

The Washington Post reports that the 42-year-old Congressman has lined up support from both members of Congress and industry groups as NASA leans more heavily on commercial space interests for functions that had traditionally been the sole purview of the federal government, and private companies eye missions to the Moon and further into deep space.

Bridenstein is being opposed by both Florida Senators ... Democrat Bill Nelson and Republican Marco Rubio. But House Science Committee chair Lamar Smith (R-TX) released a statement last week in saying Bridenstine "has the knowledge and experience to serve as a very capable NASA administrator. He has been an active member of the Science Committee's Space Subcommittee. His service as a Naval aviator, a current member of the U.S. Navy Reserve, a former executive director of the Tulsa Air and Space Museum, and his work in Congress provide the expertise necessary to lead our space program. The Science Committee has jurisdiction over NASA, and I look forward to supporting the administration's efforts to maintain U.S. leadership in space.”

However, according to The Orlando Political Observer, Senator Nelson released a brief statement saying "The head of NASA ought to be a space professional, not a politician,” and Senator Rubio told Politico that confirming Bridenstine "could be devastating for the space program. Obviously, being from Florida, I’m very sensitive to anything that slows up NASA and its mission.”

The Commercial Spaceflight Federation supports the nomination. “NASA needs dedicated and inspired leadership, and Representative Bridenstine is an outstanding choice to provide precisely that,” said S. Alan Stern, board chair of the Commercial Spaceflight Federation. “The Commercial Spaceflight Federation applauds this strong choice for NASA administrator and a bright American future in space.”

Bridenstine has been criticized as a "climate change denier" in some circles. The Trump Administration has said it wants the space agency to refocus its efforts on space exploration, some say at the expense of climate research.

The Washington Post reports that Mike Gold, the chairman of a commercial space advisory committee for the FAA, said that Bridenstine would bring an ability to unite the commercial space industry with “his support for a diverse array of activities such as deep-space exploration, private-sector partnerships, Earth science and technology development.”

(Image from file)

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