President Biden Set to Name Brevard Native and Former U.S. Senator Bill Nelson as NASA Administrator

By  //  March 19, 2021

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Nelson grew up in Melbourne where he attended Melbourne High School

n 1986, Bill Nelson became the second sitting member of Congress (and the first member of the House) to travel into space. He went through NASA training with Senator Jake Garn of Utah. Nelson was a Payload Specialist on Space Shuttle Columbia’s STS-61-C mission from January 12 to 18, 1986. This mission was the last successful space shuttle flight prior to the Challenger accident, which occurred ten days after the end of this mission. In 1988, Nelson published a book about his space flight experience entitled Mission: An American Congressman’s Voyage to Space. (NASA image)

(SPACE NEWS) — The White House plans to nominate Bill Nelson to be the next administrator of NASA, putting the former senator in charge of the agency he once advocated for on Capitol Hill.

According to several sources, the administration is expected to formally announce the nomination as soon as March 19. An announcement was reportedly expected March 18, but deferred a day to avoid conflicting with the Green Run static-fire test of the Space Launch System core stage the same day at the Stennis Space Center.

At a March 18 press briefing, White House press secretary Jen Psaki declined to say if a nomination was imminent. “I don’t have any personnel announcements to make,” she said when asked about reports about the potential nomination. “I’ve certainly seen the reports. As we have any updates, we’ll provide them.”

Nelson emerged as a potential nominee nearly a month ago. At the time, Psaki said the White House had no schedule for nominating an administrator. Rumors that he would be nominated in early March came and went without an announcement.

Nelson is a familiar figure in the space community from his three terms in the Senate from Florida, including roles as the top Democrat on the Senate Commerce Committee and its space subcommittee. He was a leading figure in the development of a 2010 NASA authorization act that supported continued development of Orion, along with the new SLS, after the cancellation of the Constellation program. That legislation also authorized NASA’s commercial crew program.

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