NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said today that he is advocating for Janet Kavandi to be Deputy Administrator.  A former astronaut, Kavandi is now Director of NASA’s Glenn Research Center in Cleveland, Ohio.  President Trump has not nominated her yet, however.

Speaking at a Space Transportation Association (STA) luncheon on Capitol Hill, Bridenstine listed the attributes he wants in a Deputy:  a technical, apolitical, space professional with experience managing a large organization.

In essence, they are the same qualifications Senate Democrats sought for Administrator.  They argued that Bridenstine’s background as a politician was not a good match for running an 18,000 employee technical agency.  He was confirmed by the Senate on a 50-49 party-line vote for that and other reasons.

Janet Kavandi, Director, NASA Glenn Research Center. Credit: NASA

Bridenstine is a military pilot, however, and former Director of the Tulsa Air and Space Museum & Planetarium.  He also spent a lot of his 5 years as the Congressman representing the 1st district of Oklahoma working on legislation affecting the civil, commercial and national security space sectors, so he is familiar with many of the policy issues facing NASA today.

For his Deputy, he wants someone with a technical background in space.  He said he is advocating for Kavandi, who was in the audience today.

Kavandi is a chemist who was selected in the 1994 class of astronauts.  She flew on three space shuttle flights:  STS-91 (1998); STS-99 (2000), and STS-104 (2001).  She accumulated 33 days in space on those flights.  Afterwards, she became Director of Flight Crew Operations at Johnson Space Center (JSC), which made her head of the Astronaut Office, and later Deputy Director of JSC’s Health and Human Performance Directorate.

She left JSC in 2015 to be Glenn’s Deputy Director.  She was promoted to Center Director in March 2016.

Kavandi has a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Missouri Southern State University; a master’s degree in chemistry from the Missouri University of Science and Technology; and a doctorate in analytical chemistry from the University of Washington in Seattle.

She has not been nominated by President Trump yet, however.  If she is, she will face the same confirmation process as Bridenstine.



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