New NASA boss Bill Nelson hails a new space age

On Monday, his hand on a Bible, he was sworn in before US Vice President Kamala Harris.

Also attending the ceremony at the White House the former administrator of the Space Agency under President Barack Obama, Charles Bolden, as well as that under Donald Trump, Republican Jim Bridenstine, for his part by video broadcast.

This symbol was aimed at to show the continuity, off partisan lines, with which you must lead the nation’s space program, especially NASA, said Bill Nelson, 78.

A new space age begins, he added, in front of a piece of moon rock.

Bill Nelson will have to lead NASA and face several daunting challenges.

The agency is preparing in particular to return to the Moon with its Artemis program. The ambitious schedule, which calls for the return of Americans to lunar soil in 2024, has for the moment been maintained by the Biden administration.

NASA is also turning more and more towards commercial partnerships, which will have to be nurtured.

President Joe Biden also said he wanted to place research on climate change at the heart of NASA’s missions.

In 1986, Bill Nelson flew aboard the Space Shuttle Columbia on a six-day space mission. The pilot was one of his predecessors as NASA administrator Charles Bolden, present on Monday.

Elected from Florida to the House of Representatives between 1979 and 1991, then to the Senate between 2001 and 2019, Bill Nelson chaired or was a member of parliamentary sub-committees on space for many years.

With decades of experience, and as a former astronaut, Bill Nelson will advance NASA’s scientific, aeronautical and technological missions.Kamala Harris tweeted Monday.

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At the time of Republican Jim Bridenstine’s confirmation, Mr. Nelson had felt that the NASA chief should not be a politician, but a space professional. Despite these initial criticisms, Mr Bridenstine’s work as head of the agency was later deemed effective, not least thanks to his knowledge of Congress.

Mr Nelson’s closeness to Joe Biden, who is the same age and was a senator partly at the same time as him, should also allow him to hold the president’s attention.

The appointment of US astronaut Pamela Melroy as deputy administrator remains to be confirmed by the US Senate. She is a pilot and is one of two women to have been at the controls of a shuttle to the International Space Station.

This weekend, Kamala Harris was also appointed head of the National Space Council, responsible for guiding the space policies of the US government. This body, revived under Donald Trump, had also been entrusted to the incumbent of the vice-presidency, at the time Mike Pence.

The Vice-President is the ideal person to lead on behalf of the federal government the politics in space, which is increasingly complex and involves many nations.Bill Nelson said in a statement.

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