More than seven months since his nomination, the Senate has finally confirmed Jim Bridenstine's appointment as the new NASA administrator.
Bridenstine, 42, will serve as the 13th administrator and the successor of Maj. Gen. Charles Frank Bolden Jr., who sworn in on July 17, 2009. In an official statement, Bridenstine, a Trump nominee, expressed his enthusiasm for leading the U.S. space agency.
"I look forward to working with the outstanding team at NASA to achieve the President's vision for American leadership in space," Bridenstine said.
The leadership was officially transferred from Robert Lightfoot, NASA's acting administrator. Lightfoot has served in the National Aeronautics and Space Administration since Jan. 20, 2017 and he is set to retire on April 30. His 406-day term is the longest in the history of NASA acting administrators.
Jim Bridenstine's Appointment
Bridenstine currently represents Oklahoma's First District since 2012, where he also serves in the Science, Space, and Technology Committee.
Prior to his congressional run, Bridenstine worked as a Navy pilot flying the E-2C Hawkeye on missions in Iraq and Afghanistan. He garnered 1,900 flight hours and a total of 333 carrier-arrested landings. Bridenstine also became the executive director of Tulsa Air and Space Museum and Planetarium.
Despite his background, Bridenstine's appointment is plagued with intrigues. Critics are concerned about his history of partisanship and his position on climate change.
The Trump administration has made a stark opposition to NASA's priority programs, which include the lunar missions and a proposal to stop budget allocations for the International Space Station by 2025. The Obama government had focused on a long-term objective to land on Mars
In 2016, Bridenstine authored the American Space Renaissance Act that included a 20-year plan for NASA. The bill did not pass Congress, although, some of his ideas are utilized in other legislation.
His Stand On Climate Change
Bridenstine's appointment as NASA administrator became controversial in light of his statements about climate change. During a 2016 interview, Bridenstine was criticized for his stance on climate change.
"Again, I am not opposed to studying it. What you'll find though is that the space-based assets that are studying climate change are not in agreement with the terrestrial assets that are studying climate change," Bridenstine said.
Meanwhile, the Commercial Spaceflight Federation has approved of Bridenstine's confirmation, saying that he is fit for the work. They said that Bridenstine's "dedicated and inspired leadership" would benefit NASA in its programs.