Bridenstine to be Sworn In As NASA Administrator April 23

Bridenstine to be Sworn In As NASA Administrator April 23

Jim Bridenstine will be sworn into office as NASA Administrator on Monday, April 23, 2018.  Vice President Mike Pence, who chairs the White House National Space Council, will officiate.  The ceremony will be webcast.

Rep. Jim Bridenstine (R-Oklahoma)

Bridenstine was confirmed by the Senate on April 19 on a party-line vote, 50-49.  (Sen. John McCain was absent as he continues to fight brain cancer.)  Bridenstine has been a Congressman representing the first district of Oklahoma since 2013.  He is a military aviator, initially with the U.S. Navy and U.S. Navy Reserve and currently with the Oklahoma Air National Guard.  Prior to his election to Congress he was Executive Director of the Tulsa Air & Space Museum & Planetarium.

The swearing-in ceremony is at 2:30 pm ET and will be aired on NASA TV and the agency’s website.  It will be followed by Bridenstine and Pence talking live with three NASA astronauts who are aboard the International Space Station (ISS):  Scott Tingle, Drew Feustel and Ricky Arnold.

Bridenstine will be NASA’s 13th Administrator.  He succeeds Charlie Bolden, who left at the end of the Obama Administration in January 2017.  Robert Lightfoot, the top civil servant at NASA, has been Acting Administrator for the past 15 months, a record.

Lightfoot announced on March 12 that he will retire from NASA at the end of this month.  Bridenstine’s nomination had been held up in the Senate because of opposition from Republican Senator Marco Rubio (Florida) who argued that NASA should be led by a “space professional” rather than a politician. With the slim 51-49 Republican majority in the Senate, one vote can make the difference between winning and losing.  Rubio said he changed his mind and decided to vote in favor of Bridenstine because of Lightfoot’s imminent departure and the need for NASA to have a permanent Administrator.

Democratic opposition, led by Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Florida), was based on the argument that NASA should not be led by a politician as well as reservations about his views on climate change considering NASA’s critical role in Earth science research and on LGBTQ rights since he will be leading a workforce of 18,000 people.  Nelson said, however, that if Bridenstine was confirmed that he would work with him for “the good of our nation’s space program.”

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