Former Sen. Bill Nelson took office as the 14th administrator of NASA May 3, 2021,, after he was given the oath of office by Vice President Kamala Harris during a ceremony at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building in Washington, D.C.
In his new role at NASA, Nelson will lead the nation’s space program as it carries out critical missions, including landing the first woman and first person of color on the Moon with the Artemis program, expanding climate change research, fostering innovation and enhancing the U.S. economy and STEM workforce.
“It’s an honor to be sworn in by Vice President Harris to serve as NASA administrator, and I look forward to a continued, strong relationship with her as chair of the National Space Council,” Nelson said after the ceremony. “I want to thank Steve Jurczyk for his leadership as Acting Administrator over the past few months, helping to carry out the Biden-Harris Administration’s priorities and ensure the success of NASA’s goals and missions. You’ve seen the incredible accomplishments at NASA over the past 100 or so days – the proof is in the pudding.”
As part of the swearing-in ceremony, Vice President Harris and Nelson were joined via video conference by Jim Bridenstine, who preceded Nelson as administrator, and in-person by Charles F. Bolden, who served as administrator from 2009 to 2017. Nelson’s family and Pam Melroy, nominee for NASA deputy administrator, were guests at the ceremony.
“I was glad to be joined today by my rock, my wife, Grace, my children, deputy administrator nominee Col. Pam Melroy, and former NASA Administrators Charlie Bolden and Jim Bridenstine, whose standing with me symbolizes the continuity of purpose and bipartisanship,” Nelson said. “It’s an incredible time for the aerospace sector, and I’m excited to lead NASA’s workforce into an exciting future!”
“Congratulations, Mr. Administrator, for all the work you’ve done and all you’ve dedicated to our country,” Vice President Harris said. “I couldn’t agree more that this has to be about our nation and what is best for our nation, unencumbered by partisan politics, but based on what we know is the right thing to do.”
The U.S. Senate confirmed Nelson to serve as the NASA administrator April 29.
Nelson has an extensive history of working with NASA and has been integral to the agency’s current successes. Prior to his nomination, was a member-at-large on NASA’s advisory council. From 2001 to 2019, Nelson represented Florida in the U.S. Senate, where he served as ranking member of the Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation and led its Subcommittee on Science and Space.
Previously, Nelson represented Florida’s 9th and 11th districts in the U.S. House of Representatives. While chair of the House space subcommittee, Nelson flew aboard the space shuttle Columbia as a payload specialist on the STS-61C mission in 1986, where he conducted 12 medical experiments including the first American stress test in space and a cancer research experiment sponsored by university researchers. The mission also included Bolden, as pilot.