Former Florida senator on track to be nominated for top NASA post

Published: Mar. 19, 2021 at 12:59 PM EDT

WASHINGTON (Gray DC) - President Joe Biden confirmed Friday that he intends to nominate former Florida Democratic Senator Bill Nelson to be NASA administrator.

The Gray Television Washington News Bureau reached out to Nelson, who offered the below statement about his anticipated nomination:

“I am honored to be nominated by Joe Biden and, if confirmed, to help lead NASA into an exciting future of possibilities.

Its workforce radiates optimism, ingenuity and a can-do spirit. The NASA team continues to achieve the seemingly impossible as we venture into the cosmos,” said Nelson.

Nelson served in public office for nearly 50 years. He represented Florida in the U.S. Senate as a Democrat for three terms before he was defeated in the highly-competitive 2018 Senate race against then-Republican Governor Rick Scott.

Nelson, 78, grew up near Cape Canaveral and was serving as a Democratic congressman when he launched aboard space shuttle Columbia in January 1986. His commander was Charles Bolden Jr., who later served as NASA administrator under President Barack Obama — at Nelson’s urging.

In January 1986, Nelson spent six days orbiting Earth as a payload specialist aboard space shuttle Columbia. That experience gave him a new perspective on the Earth’s fragile environment and a greater appreciation of the importance of our nation’s space exploration program.

Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Florida, endorsed Nelson for NASA’s top job.

“There has been no greater champion, not just for Florida’s space industry, but for the space program as a whole than Bill,” Rubio said in a statement. “His nomination gives me confidence that the Biden administration finally understands the importance of the Artemis program, and the necessity of winning the 21st century space race.”

If confirmed by the Senate, Nelson will become NASA’s 14th administrator, succeeding another former member of Congress, Jim Bridenstine, a Republican from Oklahoma.

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