Despite harsh criticism from Democratic members of the U.S. Senate, House Representative Jim Bridenstine has been confirmed as the newest NASA administrator.
Jim Bridenstine is a former Navy pilot and Oklahoma congressman. He will serve as the 13th NASA administrator and will be the first politician ever to hold the office. It is a privilege usually reserved for former astronauts and scientists.
This choice sparked mixed reactions, and it almost certainly means new priorities for the U.S. space agency.
Even with enthusiasm for space exploration, Bridenstine is a climate change denier and, as a result, has attracted the ire of many reputable scientists.
NASA is a leading climate change research center in the world. Yet, it is now headed by a man who accused former-U.S.-President Barack Obama of spending “30 times as much money” on climate research than he did on weather forecasting. This claim is reported as “mostly false.”
— Sarah Kaplan (@sarahkaplan48) April 19, 2018
As far as we know, Bridenstine’s goals include returning to the Moon. When Trump first picked Bridenstine, we shared his then-recent blog post explaining, “Why the Moon Matters.”
Bridenstine has many strong critics, including Florida Democratic Senator Bill Nelson who, during one of Bridenstine’s hearings, said “Frankly, congressman Bridenstine, I cannot see how you meet these criteria.”
Bridenstine was confirmed April 19th, 2018 after U.S. Senator Marco Rubio did an about-face on the issue. “If you look at the time frame [of confirming NASA admin], we timed it out to March 2019. NASA cannot go two and a half years [from Trump’s inauguration] without a director,” Rubio said. “An agency needs guidance. It needs to have someone there who has both the authority the backing of the administration to get things done.”
This need to meet the proposed timetable apparently gives the position to someone who critics argue doesn’t have the authority or the backing of NASA at all.