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Sunday, September 03, 2017

Trump's pick for head of NASA raises brows - CNET - Commentary: Oklahoma Rep. Jim Bridenstine, who has no formal science education, is the president's choice to be NASA's new administrator.

"When it comes to space exploration, we're all on the same side.

We're all for it, especially given Stephen Hawking's prediction that we'll need to leave Earth within 100 years.

On Friday night, however, the White House announced that the president's pick to be NASA's 13th administrator wouldn't be someone with deep space credentials and all-party support.

Instead, he's nominating Oklahoma GOP Congressman Jim Bridenstine, who's appointment needs approval by the Senate. If confirmed, he would become the first elected official to hold the position.

An early Trump supporter, Bridenstine had reportedly lobbied Trump for the job for some time.

He's long been interested in space and in bringing more business interests into the future of space travel. He authored the American Space Renaissance Act, which sought to bring new approaches, including a 20-year plan for NASA. It didn't pass into law, but some of its thoughts were introduced into other legislation.

Bridenstine is also a former executive director of the Tulsa Air and Space Museum and Planetarium and sits on the House Armed Services Committee and the Science, Space and Technology Committee.

But the fact that he is a politician without scientific credentials -- he studied economics, business and psychology at Rice University in Houston, Texas and has an MBA from Cornell -- has caused some to bridle, even on his own political side.

After Florida's Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson told Politico that "the head of NASA ought to be a space professional, not a politician," the state's GOP Sen. Marco Rubio told Politico that he, too, was concerned.

"It's the one federal mission which has largely been free of politics and it's at a critical juncture in its history," Rubio told Politico. "I would hate to see an administrator held up -- on [grounds of] partisanship, political arguments, past votes, or statements made in the past -- because the agency can't afford it and it can't afford the controversy."

Trump's pick for head of NASA raises brows - CNET

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