Rep. Jim Bridenstine (R-OK).
That’s what a couple of websites (here and here) are reporting this evening, with the caveat that — this being “Trump world” — anything could happen between now and the formal announcement planned for September or perhaps earlier.
You shouldn’t be.
During his three terms Congress, Bridenstine has made himself an expert in space policy, with a particular focus on promoting commercial space. He’s also been campaigning for the job since Trump was elected (and probably before). Bridenstine will also be in need of a new job soon. He promised voters he would serve a maximum of six years in the House, which means he won’t be standing for re-election next November.
The Trump Administration has also settled on a deputy administrator. That guy’s name is…
John who? Yeah, that’s what I asked, too.
Schumacher has been vice president of Washington, DC operations for Aerojet Rocketdyne since 2006.
So, what exactly does this all mean? Assuming the reports are accurate and Donald Trump doesn’t change his mind.
Bridenstine has been very supportive of commercial space activities. He’s also a moon guy. He wants to see Americans return to the moon. So look for NASA to be innovative in returning to the moon while incorporating as much commercial activities as possible.
This position fits in well with what appears to be an emerging consensus to put the effort to send humans to Mars on hold of revisiting our closest celestial neighbor.
Schumacher is a top official of a company that can be described, for lack of a better phrase, as Old Space. The company’s been around since the beginning. And it has a large stake in the Space Launch System and Orion spacecraft that are designed to send astronauts beyond low Earth orbit for the first time since 1972.
With this leadership, NASA could build upon a consensus forged during the Obama Administration that supports commercial programs and the SLS and Orion efforts. However, instead of sending astronauts to visit an asteroid as a precursor to Mars missions, the target will be the moon.
This approach will disappoint critics of SLS and Orion, who feel the program is too expensive and could be done with less expensive boosters and spacecraft. However, support for these programs is very strong in Congress.