Today’s Tidbits: June 15, 2018

Today’s Tidbits: June 15, 2018

Here are’s tidbits for June 15, 2018:  Peggy Whitson retires; Rubio adds his support for Kavandi to be NASA Deputy Administrator.  Be sure to check our website for feature stories and follow us on Twitter (@SpcPlcyOnline) for more news and live tweeting of events.

NASA Astronaut Peggy Whitson Retires

Record-breaking NASA astronaut Perry Whitson is retiring from NASA.  Among her records: most cumulative time in space for any U.S. astronaut (665 days over three missions); most spacewalks by any female astronaut (10); first woman to command the International Space Station (ISS); only woman to command ISS twice; first woman and the first non-military astronaut to serve as Chief of NASA’s Astronaut Corps.

Rubio Adds His Support for Kavandi to be NASA Deputy Administrator

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) tweeted today that he supports NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine’s choice to be Deputy Administrator. Rubio cast the deciding vote to confirm Bridenstine as NASA Administrator.

Bridenstine announced on Tuesday at a Space Transportation Association meeting that he wants Janet Kavandi in that role.  She is a former astronaut who currently is Director of NASA’s Glenn Research Center.  Bridenstine reiterated his position at yesterday’s FAA Commercial Space Transportation Advisory Committee (COMSTAC) meeting.  She was in attendance at both events.  Bridenstine listed the attributes he wanted in a deputy — a technical, apolitical space professional with experience managing a large organization — and said Kavandi has them all.

Rubio tweeted that he is impressed with Bridenstine’s performance so far and agrees Kavandi would be a “great choice” as Deputy Administrator.

Rubio objected to Bridenstine’s nomination to be NASA Administrator from the moment it was announced primarily on the basis that Bridenstine is a politician, not a space professional.  In fact, the qualifications Bridenstine listed as his preference for a deputy were basically all the ones his critics insisted he did not have and therefore why he should not be Administrator.

Democrats disapproved of his nomination for those and other reasons. All of them voted against Bridenstine in committee and when the nomination came to the floor.  With Republicans holding a slim margin in the Senate and Senator John McCain absent due to illness, one vote would tip the outcome one way or the other.  Rubio held the key and in the end voted in favor of Bridenstine.  He explained that the imminent retirement of Acting NASA Administrator Robert Lightfoot would leave NASA leaderless at a critical time and thus decided to vote yes so the agency would have someone in the top job.

Rubio apparently is happy with his decision and is now trying to help Bridenstine get the deputy he wants.  President Trump has not nominated anyone for the position.  It is unusual for an agency head to publicly proclaim who he wants in any politically-appointed position prior to a White House announcement.

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