By Ledyard King, USA TODAY
WASHINGTON – rep. Jim Bridenstine, President Trump's choice to operate NASA, wants to expand the role of new commercial space companies to end the reliance on Russian rockets that now carry astronauts to quit the International Space Station, and establish a "consensus agenda" on future missions that will change the moods Governments can outlast.
In other words, not unlike the general objectives of his predecessor Charles F. Bolden Jr.
Sean O'Keefe, NASA administrator during the first term of George W. Bush, applauded the goals of Bridenstine.
"I think he has picked a pretty good set of priorities that will bring cohesion, bring people on board to support them with precautions that are apt to track that," said O & # 39; Keefe , a professor of public administration at the University of Syracuse.
The 42-year-old Republican Oklahoma Congressman, Briddentine, followed the standard protocol for presidential candidates by refusing to speak publicly since his nomination on September 1
In the document of the Committee on Trade, Science and Transport, he stresses the need to build bridges between old space companies and new space entrepreneurs between the US and its international partners between the various space interests and political lobbies struggling for NASA's resources ,
"This is important to avoid resource-consuming program cancellations and maintain high morals within both the agency and the contractors"
This is a reference to the Constellation program – backed by Bush and killed by President Obama – designed to bring astronauts back to the moon. Obama's decision to abandon the program after independent experts said a lunar lander would be exorbitant scolded a number of Congressional Republicans.
The nomination of Bridenstine comes amidst political waves for the space program: questions about whether a return to the moon would be resources for sap a Mars mission, whether NASA should back down its earth science portfolio in favor of planetary exploration, and whether tensions between old space stalwarts of industry and new space entrepreneurs can be smoothed out.
In addition, possible turbulence of the former naval aviator would be the first elected politician to hold a job reserved for scientists, engineers and astronauts.
Bridenstine, who sits on the House Science, Space and Technology Committee, has no formal scientific background. His last work before being elected to the 1st District of Oklahoma in 2012 was the Executive Director of the Tulsa Air & Space Museum & Planetarium.
His political background has already triggered criticism from Senate Bill Nelson of Florida, the top Democrat on the Committee for Trade, Science and Transport overseeing the confirmation process of Bridenstine
"The NASA chief should be a space professional, not a politician "Nelson said shortly after Trump's nomination.
Democrats like Nelson should also do so in a speech in 2013 dismissing Bridenstine for climate change and its connection to human activity.
"Global temperatures stopped rising 10 years ago," Bridentine refutes the overwhelming conclusion of the scientific community. "Global temperature changes correlate, if they exist, with solar power and ocean cycles."
In his questionnaire, the Oklahoma Congressman did not respond to his controversial statement, but said that NASA had played an important role in Earth exploration. 19659017] "Unfortunately, Earth science will fight resources for planetary science," he wrote. "This is not in the best interest of NASA, the United States or the world Mars once had a magnetic field, rivers, lakes and an ocean at its North Pole At some point, March has changed dramatically and we should strive to understand why Studying other planets can affect our understanding of the earth. NASA must continue to advance both earth science and planetary science for the benefit of humanity. "
No date has been set for a confirmation hearing, Bridentine spokeswoman said (19659002) But he received a key referral earlier this week, as Alabama GOP Senator Richard Shelby pressed his thumbs up on the candidate and was sad that he was looking forward to assisting him in the process. "
– Richard Shelby (@SenShelby) September 19, 2017
Shelby's support "Old Space" interests, including major aerospace companies such as Boeing and Lockheed Martin, may not stand in the way of someone nominating themselves for the efforts of new space entrepreneurs such as Elon Musks SpaceX and Jeff Bezos & # 39; Blue Origin.
John Logsdon, former director of the Space Policy Institute at George Washington University, "The background of Bridenstine could work in his favor if he is perceived as someone who does not lend himself so easily."
"It differs from previous administrators because it does not come from a background of management experience or deep immersion in the aerospace industry," he said. That could be useful because "he does not engage in a certain way."
At a time when political acumen could be more important than technical expertise, O & # 39; Keefe said Congressional experience would help him.
"He may have an advantage over most of the people who were there because he can work with people, build consensus, and understand how to hit his head against a wall because you just do not know how decisions are made "He said," If anything, his background is not to blame. It is an attribute. "
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