It looks like former U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson of Florida could head NASA

By: - March 18, 2021 1:51 pm

View of Earth from the International Space Station. Photo: NASA

Media outlets in Florida and Washington, D.C. are reporting that former U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson will be the Biden administration’s pick to lead NASA — the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

Former U.S. Senator Bill Nelson. Then-U.S. Senate Photo

Nelson, a Democrat and longtime politician well known in Florida, has served a variety of roles over the decades, from a state House member to a state agency to the U.S. Senate, where he spent nearly two decades in Congress.

In 2018, Nelson lost to then-Gov. Rick Scott, a Republican, in a close battle for the U.S. Senate seat in Florida.

The Washington Post reported Thursday that Biden is “expected to nominate” Nelson for the next administrator of NASA.

The Post also wrote: “If approved by the Senate, Nelson would be the second consecutive NASA chief to come from Congress and would give NASA a leader with close ties to the Oval Office. Nelson was a key Biden supporter during the presidential campaign and has a long personal relationship with the president…

“Nelson flew in the space shuttle in 1986 and oversaw NASA’s space programs while in Congress. He is knowledgeable and enthusiastic about space and NASA, an agency he has long cherished. But the choice is disappointing to many who were hopeful that the next NASA administrator would be the first woman to serve in the top position.”

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Diane Rado
Diane Rado

Diane Rado has covered state and local government and public schools in six states over some 30 years, focusing on policy and investigative stories as well as legislative and political reporting. She spent most of her career at the St. Petersburg (Tampa Bay) Times and the Chicago Tribune. She has a master’s degree in journalism from Northwestern University and did a fellowship in education reform at the University of Michigan in 1999-2000. She is married to a journalist and has three adult children.