A recent toast to James Watson highlights a tolerance for bigotry many want excised from the scientific community.
The US Senate narrowly approved the politician, who does not have a science background.
April 19, 2018|
WIKIMEDIA, UNITED STATES CONGRESSAlong party lines, the US Senate has confirmed Congressman Jim Bridenstine (R-OK) as the new head of NASA today (April 19). The approval comes after a drawn-out nomination period during which senators questioned his qualifications—Bridenstine was a pilot and politician, but never a scientist.
“The NASA administrator should be a consummate space professional, that’s what this senator wants,” Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL), who opposed the nominee, said yesterday, according to Politico. “That space professional ought to be technically and scientifically competent, and a skilled executive.”
Bridenstine was a Navy pilot, who has represented Oklahoma’s first congressional district since 2013. Science reports that as NASA Administrator, Bridenstine has his work cut out for him, including dealing with a delayed telescope launch and another planned telescope the White House wants to abandon. The New York Times notes that under President Donald Trump’s administration, NASA has set its focus on returning humans to the moon.
Trump nominated Bridenstine in September 2017, following the departure of Charles Bolden upon the President’s inauguration. Robert Lightfoot, a longtime NASA official, had been acting director. According to The Times, Bridenstine is the first elected official to run the agency.
“I was not enthused about the nomination. Nothing personal about Mr. Bridenstine. NASA is an organization that needs to be led by a space professional,” Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL), who voted in favor of confirmation, said Thursday, according to The Washington Post. But “my view of it is, and it has been the tradition of the Senate for the entire distance of the republic, that we give great deference to the president on choosing qualifications.”
April 20, 2018
I'm not acquainted with Mr. Bridenstine, but don't have a problem with him heading NASA. NASA appears to need some direction and management.
A former pilot has skills and qualifications different than those of his predecessors, however NASA seems to be falling behind in research and development.
It was originally commissioned I believe during the Space Race with the Soviet Union to compete with Russia in the areas of space science and technology.
There has been a lot of coordination and corraboration with US military programs, although NASA was originally intended for peaceful use of science and technology, in order for both the military and security agencies to complete their missions, as well as NASA, there had to be cooperation.
The Space Shuttle had both scientific and military missions.
Many astronauts had military experience, especially as pilots.
Perhaps Bridenstine will be able to get NASA a place at the table, since it seems to have been excluded from a lot of essential funding and programs, in part due to budgetary constraints over the last several years.
April 21, 2018
"A former pilot has skills and qualifications different than those of his predecessors"
The previous NASA Administrator, Charles F. Bolden, was a Marine Aviator, who flew combat missions in Vietnam. He had also been an astronaut for almost 30 years when he was nominated to run the agency. What most distinguishes the current Administrator is not that he was a pilot, but that he is a politician.
"Perhaps Bridenstine will be able to get NASA a place at the table, since it seems to have been excluded from a lot of essential funding and programs"
Perhaps, but other Western-state politicians, like Scott Pruitt, Ryan Zinke, and Rick Perry, seem more interested in dismantling their agencies than in increasing their resources.
April 23, 2018
"Many astronauts had military experience, especially as pilots" -- that's like saying "a NASA campus bus driver has enough experience with NASA to run it". Are you kidding?
Bridenstine is a climate change skeptic and has no recognizable experience in science or technology. At least Bolden, his predecessor, hat some science background and was a real astronaut.
Where do we want the priorities of NASA to be? In science or military and economic space exploration?