Congressmen Urge Senators to Confirm Bridenstine as NASA Administrator

Rep. Jim Bridenstine

A group of 61 House members has sent a letter to the Senate urging the body to approve the nomination of Rep. Jim Bridenstine (R-OK) to serve as the next administrator of NASA.

“As the Congressman from the 1st District of Oklahoma, Jim has been an active member of the House Space Subcommittee, distinguishing himself as one of the most engaged, passionate, and knowledgeable members of the Subcommittee,” the letter states. “In 2015, SpaceNews named him one of “five space leaders in the world making a difference in space.” He authored several provisions in the 2017 NASA Transition Authorization Act and co-authored the bipartisan American Space Commerce Free Enterprise Act.”

The letter noted that NASA Acting Administrator Robert Lightfoot, who has been running the agency for the past 14 months, has announced he is retiring at the end of April.

The letter was sent from Rep. Brian Babin (R-Texas), chairman of the House Space Subcommittee, to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KEN) and Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY).

All Republican members of the House Science, Space, and Technology and Armed Services Committee signed the letter. A dozen Democratic House members also signed the letter.

The letter is reproduced below.

Dear Senator McConnell and Senator Schumer,

After nearly 30 years of service to NASA and his country, Acting Administrator Robert Lightfoot recently announced his decision to retire at the end of April 2018. While we are immensely thankful for the tremendous job he has done as the longest serving Acting Administrator in agency history, his imminent departure makes it all the more critical that the Senate finally confirms Jim Bridenstine, who has twice been nominated to serve as NASA Administrator.

We are keenly aware of how valuable NASA is, not only to our nation, but also the entire world. It would be a travesty to America’s space program for it to remain leaderless at this critical time when America’s space industry is making rapid advances that will set the course of space leadership for decades to come. This is why it is vitally important that the Senate take up and approve Jim Bridenstine’s nomination.

Jim Bridenstine has spent the bulk of his adult life in service to his country. His background is in naval aviation, flying the E2-C Hawkeye in Afghanistan and Iraq, and later the F-18 while also serving as an instructor at the Naval Strike and Air Warfare Center. He has been responsible for coordinating command and control of the battlefield from an airborne platform, with thousands of lives and billions of dollars affected by his decisions. In this service to his nation he has demonstrated both the technical capacity and leadership experience necessary to lead NASA.

As the Congressman from the 1st District of Oklahoma, Jim has been an active member of the House Space Subcommittee, distinguishing himself as one of the most engaged, passionate, and knowledgeable members of the Subcommittee. In 2015, SpaceNews named him one of “five space leaders in the world making a difference in space.” He authored several provisions in the 2017 NASA Transition Authorization Act and co-authored the bipartisan American Space Commerce Free Enterprise Act.

With many milestones fast approaching, NASA must have a presidentially appointed and Senate confirmed leader in place. The first launch of the SLS and Orion will occur during this Administration and our Commercial Crew partners are working to have their first launches as early as the end of this year. Vital decision points must be addressed soon. The architecture for returning to the Moon and venturing to Mars needs to be developed. Key decisions about the future of the ISS and NASA’s role in low earth orbit are quickly approaching. New science missions to study the Earth and the far reaches of our solar system are going to be designed and launched. Now is not the time to leave NASA rudderless. We urge the Senate to confirm Jim Bridenstine swiftly and allow him to lead the world’s premier space agency into the next age of space exploration.

Sincerely,

Brian Babin (R-Texas)
Chairman, House Subcommittee on Space

Lamar Smith (R-Texas)
Chairman, House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology 
Frank Lucas (R-Oklahoma)
Vice Chairman, House Committee on Science, Space and Technology
Mac Thornberry
Chairman, House Armed Services Committee
Dana Rohrabacher (R-California)
Mo Brooks (R-Alabama)
Randy Hultgren (R-Illinois)
Bill Posey (R-Florida)
Thomas Massie (R-Kentucky)
Randy K. Weber (R-Texas)
Stephen Knight (R-California)
Barbara Comstock (R-Virginia)
Barry Loudermilk (R-Georgia)
Ralph Lee Abraham (R-Louisiana)
Daniel Webster (R-Florida)
Jim Banks (R-Indiana)
Andy Biggs (R-Arizona)
Roger W. Marshall (R-Kansas)
Neal P. Dunn (R-Florida)
Clay Higgins (R-Louisiana)
Ralph Norman (R-South Carolina)
Mac Thornberry (R-Texas)
Walter Jones (R-North Carolina)
Joe Wilson (R-South Carolina)
Frank LoBiondo (R-New Jersey)
Rob Bishop (R-Utah)
Michael Turner (R-Ohio)
Mike Rogers (R-Alabama)
Bill Shuster (R-Pennsylvania)
Mike Conaway (R-Texas)
Doug Lamborn (R-Colorado)
Robert Wittman (R-Virginia)
Duncan Hunter (R-California)
Mike Coffman (R-Colorado)
Vicky Hartzler (R-Missouri)
Austin Scott (R-Georgia)
Paul Cook (R-California)
Brad Wenstrup (R-Ohio)
Bradley Byrne (R-Alabama)
Sam Graves (R-Missouri)
Elise Stefanik (R-New York)
Martha McSally (R-Arizona)
Steve Russell (R-Oklahoma)
Scott DesJarlais (R-Tennessee)
Trent Kelly (R-Mississippi)
Mike Gallagher (R-Wisconsin)
Matt Gaetz (R-Florida)
Don Bacon (R-Nebraska)
Jim Banks (R-Indiana)
Liz Cheney (R-Wyoming)
Jody Hice (R-Georgia)
Ed Perlmutter (D-Colorado)
Derek Kilmer – D-Washington)
Marc Veasey (D-Texas)
Jim Cooper (D-Tennessee)
John Geramendi (D-California)
Matt Cartwright (D-Pennsylvania)
C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger (D-Maryland)
Donald Norcross (D–New Jersey)
Henry Cuellar (D-Texas)
Daniel Kildee -(D-Michigan)
Dave Loesback – (D-Iowa)
Krysten Simena (D-Arizona)

  • Rep. Bridenstine certainly has been a leader on the House space subcommittee. And it is true that he is very smart and knowledgeable. That said, his position on humans to the surface of the Moon is that they should go only for brief stays to repair the telerobots who are doing the real work. I think that this is a very limited vision of what role humans should play when venturing off Earth to stay. What really should happen is that, within a Lunar COTS setting, private commercial crew should go to a permanent, shielded habitat on the surface of the Moon, repair telerobots, but also develop increasing levels of ISRU to learn how to become increasing Earth independent by mass. SpaceDevelopment.org

  • Tom Billings

    I am suspicionnin’ that the Honorable Rep. Bridenstine was limiting himself to comments that would not rouse the long-held anti-settlement sentiment in Congress. As a short-term tactic, that may be wise, if not fully expressive of his eventual desires. For the long-term, I like yours better.

  • Thanks Tom. Others have suggested the same. But reidenstine’s views align with that of Spudis and Bridenstine publicly credits Spudis’ book as his inspiration. The issue comes down to essentially the military or national aspect of cislunar space. Spudis describes the value of the Moon as being that it can supply propellant so that we can go anywhere in cislunar space “where all of our national space assets reside” (GEO, GPS, LEO) and both express concern about a Chinese mission that moved throughout cislunar space. I’ve never understood the argument and I think that establishing humanity’s first off-Earth permanent foothold is of such high historic significance that I’m puzzled at the neglect of that concept.