Biden picks former Florida Sen. Bill Nelson as next NASA Administrator

ORLANDO, Fla. — Former U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson said he’s honored to be nominated as the next head of NASA.

President Joe Biden made his pick official Friday morning.

As a veteran of, and a longtime voice for, the space program, Nelson steps in during a critical chapter for the agency.

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For decades, Nelson was seen as the go-to advocate in Congress for NASA’s space program.

The nomination of a man who grew up on Central Florida’s Space Coast, to lead the agency, is no surprise.

“It’s clear that knowing how Congress works is important to bring into the office of administrator,” said Dale Ketcham with Space Florida.

If approved, the 78-year-old current member of NASA’s Advisory Council would be the first chief to bring experience from Capitol Hill, and from space itself.

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In 1986, Nelson was part of the Space Shuttle Columbia crew that orbited the earth nearly 100 times in six days.

“I don’t know if there’s anybody with a more broad but yet space focused background that is stepping into this position and I think that’s going to be critical,” Ketcham said.

In his 18 years in Congress, Nelson was the top democrat on the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation committee, helping craft nearly every piece of space program policy in use today.

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There is no timeline yet on when the Senate will consider this pick, though approval is expected, given Nelson’s deep ties to Congress and the space program.

See the full report in the video above.