Administration Resubmits Bridenstine Nomination to Run NASA

Rep. Jim Bridenstine

The Trump Administration has resubmitted the nomination of Rep. Jim Bridenstine (R-OK) to serve as administrator of NASA. The administration also submitted the name of Jeffrey DeWit to serve as the space agency’s chief financial officer.

Bridenstine had a contentious confirmation hearing last year before the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, which narrowly confirmed the nomination along party lines. The re-submission of his nomination was a routine matter because the full Senate failed to vote on the nomination before the year ended.

Democrats criticized Bridenstine over his positions on Earth science research, global warming and various social issues. Sens. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) and Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) has expressed opposition to Bridenstine, saying they have concerns about placing a politician in charge of an agency that has enjoyed bi-partisan support.

Republicans enjoy a 51-49 majority in the Senate. Vice President Mike Pence has the power to break 50-50 ties.

Future Looks (Mostly) Bright for Space Industry in DC


The Next Generation Suborbital Researchers Conference is being held in Colorado through today. I wasn’t able to attend this year, but the following folks are there tweeting away:

  • Jeff Foust‏ @jeff_foust
  • Rand Simberg‏ @Rand_Simberg
  • Colorado Space News‏ @CO_Space_News
  • Laura Seward Forczyk @LauraForczyk

Below are updates based upon their tweets on what is happening in Washington, DC, from talks by officials from the FAA, NASA, and the Commercial Spaceflight Federation.
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Support for Deep Space Gateway Grows in Japan

Boeing’s proposed Deep Space Gateway (Credit: Boeing)

Although the U.S. Congress has not given approval for NASA’s proposed Deep Space Gateway, support for the project appears to be building in Japan as a follow-on to the nation’s partnership in the  International Space Station.

Japan hopes to join the U.S. project to construct a spaceport in lunar orbit in the latter half of the 2020s, in an effort to realize a lunar surface exploration mission by a Japanese astronaut. The government plans to submit a draft report on the project to a meeting of a governmental panel of space policy experts.

By joining an international space probe, the nation is expected to obtain scientific results, and also boost its competitiveness in the space industry and assert Japan’s leadership in the field of space utilization, the sources said….

Tokyo has decided it is a realistic goal to send astronauts for the first time to the lunar surface for exploration activities, by joining the U.S. project and contributing its expertise in such areas as the docking of the space station and supply ship. Japan will draw on its experience of close cooperation with the United States regarding ISS operations.

Any serious movement toward the Deep Space Gateway in the United States will probably have to wait until after the Senate approves an administrator to lead NASA. The Trump’s Administration’s choice, Rep. Jim Bridenstine, had a contentious confirmation hearing earlier this month before the Senate Commerce Committee.

The fate of Bridenstine’s nomination is uncertain in the full Senate with many Democrats and at least one Republican, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), opposing his confirmation. Republicans hold a narrow 52-48 advantage in the upper chamber.

Any funding proposal for the Deep Space Gateway would be included in the fiscal year 2019 budget, which the administration would likely release in February.

Rubio Still Concerned Over Bridenstine’s Nomination to Run NASA

Rep. Jim Bridenstine

Rep. Jim Bridenstine’s (R-OK) confirmation hearing apparently did nothing to assuage the doubts of Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) over his suitability to serve as NASA’s next administrator.

“I remain very concerned about the politicization of NASA, not even because he would do it on purpose but just given some of the resistance he’s already engendered,” Rubio said in an interview Friday. “I don’t think NASA at this critical stage of its history can afford that … As of this moment, I can’t assure anyone that I would support his nomination if it came to a vote.”

Rubio’s comments are his strongest yet and suggest that his initial misgivings when President Donald Trump announced Bridenstine’s nomination in early September have only grown.

A broad swath of Democrats from Washington Sen. Patty Murray to Florida Sen. Bill Nelson have already announced their opposition to Bridenstine over a range of his past statements, including ones skeptical of climate science and opposing same-sex marriage.

Bridenstine’s nomination requires approval of the full Senate. Republicans hold a 52-48 advantage in the upper chamber, which means the Congressman cannot afford to lose many GOP votes.

Senate Committee Approves Bridenstine Nomination by Party Line Vote

Rep. Jim Bridenstine

The Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation approved the nomination of Rep. Jim Bridenstine (R-OK) to serve as NASA administrator by a party-line vote of 14-13 this morning.

Republicans voted for Bridenstine while Democrats opposed him. The nomination now goes to the full Senate where Republicans hold a 52-48 advantage at a date to be determined.

During a contentious hearing last Wednesday, Democrats had criticized the former fighter pilot turned politician as lacking the scientific and technical expertise to lead the space agency. They also questioned whether the deeply conservative Republican was too partisan to lead NASA. Democrats were critical of his positions on climate change and LGBT rights.

Republicans praised Bridenstine’s service in the House, where he had become one of Congress’s leading policy wonks. The Congressman has the support of a number of space organizations as well as Apollo 11 astronaut Buzz Aldrin.

The position of administrator is one of two positions at NASA that require Senate approval. The Trump Administration has yet to nominate a deputy administrator.

Walking on Coals: Bridenstine Dances Around Hot Climate Change Issues

The new NASA global data set combines historical measurements with data from climate simulations using the best available computer models to provide forecasts of how global temperature (shown here) and precipitation might change up to 2100 under different greenhouse gas emissions scenarios. (Credit: NASA)

NASA Nominee Kinda Sorta Doesn’t Really
Walk Back Position on Global Warming

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

On Friday, the U.S. government released a long-in-the-making report on climate change that contained a stark assessment of what humans are doing to planet Earth.

“This assessment concludes, based on extensive evidence, that it is extremely likely that human activities, especially emissions of greenhouse gases, are the dominant cause of the observed warming since the mid-20th century,” the report states. “For the warming over the last century, there is no convincing alternative explanation supported by the extent of the observational evidence.”

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Sen. Patty Murray Opposes Bridenstine Nomination to Run NASA

Rep. Jim Bridenstine

With his confirmation hearing for the post of NASA administrator scheduled for Nov. 1, Rep. Jim Bridenstine (R-OK) is facing opposition from Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) over his opposition to climate change research and “bigoted and hateful statements” he has made about gays, Muslims and women.

“Rep. Bridenstine’s background makes him an extremely concerning choice to lead this critical agency and its 19,000 diverse employees,” Murray wrote in a three-page letter released today.

“Rep. Bridenstine’s denial of climate change and consistent opposition to equal rights for women, immigrants, and gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) individuals should disqualify him from consideration,” Given his very public statements and positions, its clear Rep. Bridenstine would move us backwards not forwards, and I urge you to vote against his nomination.”

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Union of Concerned Scientists Issues Action Alert Opposing Bridenstine

Rep. Jim Bridenstine

The Union of Concerned Scientists has issued an action alert urging citizens to write their senators to oppose the nomination of Rep. Jim Bridenstine (R-OK) to become the next NASA Administrator.

Representative Bridestine has recommended significantly altering NASA’s mission by stripping out all Earth science related work from Congress’s declared policy and purpose for NASA. NASA’s Earth science research advances understanding of how disasters like Hurricane Irma, Harvey, and Maria and droughts in the Upper Midwest form and allows us to better prepare and respond to extreme weather events across the country. The research is critical to the health and safety of the US public.

He also has a history of publicly questioning the cause of climate change. His public remarks suggest that his current understanding of Earth Science is largely informed by politically charged skeptics of climate change research. We need a NASA administrator who can differentiate science from politics.

The organization has an online form here: https://secure.ucsusa.org/onlineactions/CEVS143t_E-D-ScehUj4QA2

Florida Scientists Urge Nelson, Rubio to Oppose Bridenstine Nomination

Rep. Jim Bridenstine

A group of more than 40 Florida scientists have signed an open letter to Senators Bill Nelson (D-FL) and Marco Rubio (R-FL) to oppose the nomination of Rep. Jim Bridenstine (R-OK) to become NASA administrator.

“The vital work of NASA’s Earth observation systems must continue without political interference,” the letter states. “We find it troubling that Congressman Bridenstine has repeated misinformation in his quest to deny climate change, notably in 2013 when he suggested that global temperatures were not rising….

“We urge you to oppose Jim Bridenstine’s nomination,” the letter adds. “He has no scientific training and little administrative experience and he is not qualified to lead this prestigious agency.”

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Jim Bridenstine Explains Why He is Qualified to be NASA Administrator

Rep. Jim Bridenstine

By Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Rep. Jim Bridenstine (R-OK) says that his leadership efforts in Congress on space issues qualifies him to serve as NASA administrator.

“For three terms in Congress, have led comprehensive, bipartisan, space reforms with the objective of preserving America’s preeminence and global leadership in space,” Bridenstine stated in a notarized document submitted to the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation.

“These efforts have led me to a deep understanding of the complex challenges NASA will face bringing together traditional space companies and new space entrepreneurs into a comprehensive NASA vision for both exploration and science,” he added. “Traditional and new space companies are both critical to accelerating America’s space renaissance.”

In the document, which queried Bridenstine on his views and qualifications for NASA’s top job, the congressman listed NASA’s top three challenges as:
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What Might Happen to NASA’s Earth Science Programs Under Bridenstine?

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Imagine the following scenario: NASA’s Earth Science division gets its budget cut with key missions focused on climate change canceled.

The new NASA administrator then announces the division will be dismantled, with various programs divided among other federal departments, in order to better focus the space agency on exploration. The bulk of the programs end up at NOAA, which the NASA administrator says is a much more appropriate home for them.

NOAA, however, is already reeling from spending cuts. Struggling to perform its own forecasting duties on a reduced budget, the agency has little bandwidth to take on any additional responsibilities. And the funding allocated for the NASA programs that were just transferred over is woefully inadequate for the tasks at hand.

The result is a bureaucratic train wreck in which America’s Earth science and climate research programs gradually wither away due to mismanagement, neglect and lack of funding. The ability of the nation — and the world — to understand and address the changes the planet experiencing is greatly reduced. At some future date, another administration will have to rebuild a program in shambles that was once the envy of the world.

Sound far fetched? Think again. It could very well happen if the Trump Administration and the man it has nominated to lead NASA get what they want out of Congress.

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Bridenstine’s ASRA Bill Proposed Radical Changes in NASA’s Goals, Structure

NASA LOGORepublished from April 25, 2016

By Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

NASA would be given a mandate to pioneer the development and settlement of space and a commission dominated by Congressional appointees to oversee those efforts under a bill proposed by Rep. Jim Bridenstine (R-OK).

The measure’s basic premise is that NASA’s problems stem from unstable presidential commitments to space exploration as opposed to Congress’ tendency to support expensive programs that bring funding into particular states and districts.

“Over the past twenty years, 27 NASA programs have been cancelled at a cost of over $20 billion to the taxpayer,” according to a statement on a website devoted to the measure. “Many of these have come as a result of changes in presidential administrations.

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Bridenstine Proposed Radical Restructuring of NASA Oversight Last Year

Rep. Jim Bridenstine

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Donald Trump’s nominee to become administrator of NASA proposed a fundamental overhaul of how the space agency would be run last year.

Rep. Jim Bridenstine’s (R-OK) American Space Renaissance Act (ASRA) proposes the establishment of a 21-member board to oversee the space agency, giving the NASA administrator a five-year term, and the creation of 10- and 20-year strategic plans.

The overarching goal of these proposals is to insulate the space agency from changes in direction each time a new presidential administration takes over.

ASRA was a catch-all bill that contained proposals for broad changes to the nation’s civil, military and commercial space efforts. Bridenstine did not intend the ASRA to be passed as a single bill but as a series of individual measures. Congress has not taken up any of the NASA management reforms included in bill.

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Bridenstine Social Media Posts, Interviews Go Missing

Rep. Jim Bridenstine

A CNN KFile review has found that various social media accounts, postings and radio interviews belonging to and featuring Rep. Jim Bridenstine (R-OK) have been deleted this year.

Bridenstine has been nominated to become NASA Administrator and faces confirmation in the Senate. He is facing some push back from Florida’s two senators, Bill Nelson and Marco Rubio, who have expressed concerns about putting a politician in charge of the nation’s civilian space agency.

Facebook, YouTube and Twitter accounts belonging to Bridenstine’s campaign have been deleted entirely. Several posts on the Facebook page of Bridenstine’s congressional office have also been deleted.

The congressman’s Soundcloud account now only hosts two radio interviews with the congressman, but a search of the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine and the Google Cache show there used to be several radio interviews available on the account. Some of the missing interviews appear to be with conservative talk radio hosts like Mark Levin and Laura Ingraham.

Matthew Rydin, a spokesperson for Bridenstine, said the campaign Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube were deleted because his office was getting questions about whether Bridenstine was standing by his pledge to only serve three terms, which he is.

“He is not campaigning for any office, so no reason to maintain the campaign accounts,” Rydin said.

Bridenstine’s spokesperson also said that some of the congressman’s radio interviews on Soundcloud might have been dropped as a result of a downgrade in the amount of storage space available on the account. However, according to a Soundcloud FAQ, Soundcloud says it does not delete files if you downgrade to a free account but hides the oldest uploads that exceed the upload limit of three hours. The two tracks currently on Bridenstine’s account total 38 minutes.

Read the full story.

House Science Committee Chairman Smith Backs Bridenstine Nomination

Lamar Smith

WASHINGTON – House Science, Space, and Technology Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) released the following statement today after President Trump announced U.S. Rep. Jim Bridenstine (R-Okla.) will lead the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).

Chairman Smith: “Jim Bridenstine has the knowledge and experience to serve as a very capable NASA administrator. He has been an active member of the Science Committee’s Space Subcommittee. His service as a Naval aviator, a current member of the U.S. Navy Reserve, a former executive director of the Tulsa Air and Space Museum, and his work in Congress provide the expertise necessary to lead our space program. The Science Committee has jurisdiction over NASA, and I look forward to supporting the administration’s efforts to maintain U.S. leadership in space.”