Science Policy & Funding News

New NASA Administrator Sworn In

Bridenstine says bipartisanship “is important in space.” Many Democrats, however, worry that he will be too partisan.

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Jim Bridenstine became the 13th NASA administrator following a swearing-in ceremony yesterday afternoon and last week’s tightest-ever Senate confirmation vote for a leader of the space agency.

“I will do my best to serve our storied agency to the utmost of my abilities as we reach for new heights and reveal the unknown for the benefit of humankind,” said the former Republican representative from Oklahoma who resigned from Congress Monday morning prior to the ceremony. Bridenstine, who received only Republican Senate votes for his confirmation and becomes the first politician to hold the position, said he was “very humbled” to be part of the “NASA family.”

Jim Bridenstine, flanked by his wife and children, is sworn in as the new NASA administrator by Vice President Mike Pence.
Jim Bridenstine (center, hand raised), flanked by his wife and three children, is sworn in as the new NASA administrator by Vice President Mike Pence. Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls

“NASA represents what is best about the United States of America. We lead, we discover, we pioneer, and we inspire. I look forward to our journey together,” he said.

A Nod to Bipartisanship

After Vice President Mike Pence swore in Bridenstine at NASA headquarters in Washington, D. C., Bridenstine thanked supporters, including Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-Colo.), and said that bipartisanship “is important in space.” In addition, he applauded former NASA leaders, including acting administrator Robert Lightfoot and Charles Bolden, who was NASA administrator during the Obama administration. Bridenstine also received congratulations, via a live video link, from U.S. astronauts currently on board the International Space Station.

At a meeting with agency officials and NASA center directors immediately following the ceremony, Bridenstine said the omnibus spending bill that was signed into law on 23 March “renews focus on human space flight activities and expands our commercial and international partnerships” and supports exploration goals of the Trump administration’s Space Policy Directive 1. Bridenstine also expressed enthusiasm for other aspects of the agency, including science. “I’m excited about our science activities that will continue to increase our understanding of Earth and our place in the universe.”

Pence praised Bridenstine and the agency. “Just to show you the level of enthusiasm this president has for this program: While Jim and I will be meeting briefly after I have a chance to speak to the leaders of NASA’s five mission directorates today, the president wanted the new administrator of NASA in the Oval Office before dinner tonight, because we are renewing American leadership in space and we are excited, excited about the new administrator’s role and the background that he brings to this.”

—Randy Showstack (@RandyShowstack), Staff Writer

Citation: Showstack, R. (2018), New NASA administrator sworn in, Eos, 99, https://doi.org/10.1029/2018EO097519. Published on 24 April 2018.
© 2018. The authors. CC BY-NC-ND 3.0