President Trump plans to nominate Rep. James Bridenstine (R-Okla.) to be the next administrator of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the White House announced Friday.
Currently, NASA is led by its acting administrator, Robert Lightfoot, who has been in that position for more than seven months, the longest time the space agency has been led by an acting chief in its history.
But the nomination drew fire from two United States senators from Florida who questioned the Oklahoma representative’s qualifications to lead such a complex and highly technical agency.
U.S. Senators Bill Nelson (D-FL) (L) and Marco Rubio (R-FL) hold a press conference to show support for the Venezuelan community on April 17, 2014 in Doral, Florida.
Rep. Bridenstine is already on the House Science, Space and Technology Committee and has been gunning for the head boss role at NASA.
Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) told Politico, “I just think it could be devastating for the space program”. NASA is aiming for astronauts on Mars sometime in the 2030s.
But it faces competition from billionaires like Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk, who runs SpaceX and Tesla.
Bridenstine, a pilot in the U.S. Navy Reserve and former executive director of the Tulsa Air and Space Museum and Planetarium, was elected to the U.S. Congress in 2012 to represent Oklahoma’s First Congressional District.
He has degrees from Rice University and Cornell.