Former Democrat Senator Bill Nelson was sworn in as NASA’s Administrator on 3 May after being unanimously confirmed by the US Senate – a much smoother path through Congress than his predecessor Jim Bridenstine’s experience. Bridenstine, another former Administrator Charles Boden and US Vice President Kamala Harris were among the attendees.
The selection of the one-time payload specialist astronaut has, nevertheless, been controversial. At the age of 79, many wondered whether Nelson was too old for an executive job rather than the advisory role he had been playing. He is also seen as “old school” – in favour of large-scale, purely NASA run programmes, such as SLS, rather than the recent trend of using private firms to provide space transportation and technology.
The Biden Administration has decided to retain the advisory National Space Council after it was brought back into existence by the Trump Administration. Kamela Harris will head this body.