Former US Senator Bill Nelson (Florida Democrat) was formally and unanimously approved by the Senate as the agency’s new administrator on Thursday (April 29).
President Joe Biden Nelson appointed as NASA’s new administrator last month. Nelson takes over from Acting NASA Administrator Steve Yurchik, who has been running the agency since the departure of previous administrator Jim Bridenstine. Bridenstine stepped down as head of NASA at the end of the Trump presidency in January 2021.
On Wednesday (April 28), the Senate Committee on Commerce voted to promote Nelson’s candidacy for the role, and today the entire Senate voted to confirm. Senators voted unanimously to have Nelson head the new presidential administration.
Video: Watch Bill Nelson launch into space aboard Columbia
“I am honored to be nominated for president and vote in the Senate,” Nelson said after confirmation. according to NASA… “I will try to earn this trust. Forward and upward!”
“I am delighted to welcome Bill to the NASA family,” Yurchik said in the same statement. “This has been an amazing year for NASA, our commercial and international partners, and I look forward to working with Bill and the Biden-Harris administration to build on the incredible momentum we’ve created so far. I was honored to serve as the current administrator, but it is the NASA staff that make this agency one of a kind. Thank you for everything you do to advance important NASA missions. ”
Connected: Biden appoints former astronaut Pamela Melroy as NASA deputy chief
“Bill Nelson is a great choice for a NASA administrator,” Bridenstine said. said in a statement about Nelson after his appointment, adding that the new chief “will have the clout to secure strong budgets for NASA and, if necessary, he can enlist the help of his friend, President Joe Biden.”
Bridenstine also said the Senate should approve Bill Nelson “without delay,” and that happened today.
Nelson represented Florida as a U.S. Senator from 2001 to 2019, when the agency’s space shuttle program ended and commercial space flights began. In addition to his political career, Nelson is actually a former space pilot: In 1986, he served as a payload specialist on a six-day space shuttle mission. Colombia…
Although Nelson received unanimous Senate approval, Biden also openly expressed his support for this choice.
“He was known in the Senate as the Senator for our nation’s space program,” Biden officials wrote in a statement following Nelson’s nomination. “Almost every part of space and scientific law has left its mark.”
Connected: NASA chief candidate Bill Nelson talks about Artemis and more
The confirmation on Thursday follows the appointment of Pal Melroy, a former NASA astronaut and former Air Force colonel, to be NASA’s deputy administrator. As an astronaut, Melroy completed three space shuttle flights, supporting the construction of the International Space Station, and was the commander of her last flight in 2007. Together with former NASA astronaut Eileen Collins, she is one of only two women to ever command a spaceship. space shuttle. Melroy’s candidacy is still going through Congress.
“I believe Pam Melroy will be a great partner to help lead NASA,” Bill Nelson said of her appointment. in a statement received by Florida Today… “Pam has many years of technical and leadership experience that will assist NASA on its mission to explore space, expand climate change research, and ensure that NASA-developed technologies benefit life here on Earth.”
Email Chelsea Gohd at cgohd@ or follow her on Twitter @chelsea_gohd. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom and on Facebook.