NASA’s new director, Bill Nelson, is a familiar face in the space industry, but the agency he has led for nearly two months has seen big changes in recent years.
Nelson took office several decades after representing the Space Coast and the State of Florida in Congress. He took office when NASA was busy. NASA is doubling down on manned missions to the moon, while exploring its position on the stage for commercial engagement. People are getting crowded. sat down with Nelson to learn about his priorities for the agency and his thoughts on adapting to work.
“It is a great honor to have the responsibility of leading this Cando organization,” Nelson told “If you really want to know the truth, I’m like a kid in a candy store,” he said, though he also compared the experience to “drinking from a fire hose.
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Nelson had a close relationship with NASA long before it took over. During his decades in Congress, he represented the NASA Kennedy Space Center geographically and held a seat on committees related to the agency. In his first speech as an agency-wide administrator, he described how his grandmother settled in the land that is now part of the space shuttle runway in 1917. In 1985, he even persuaded the agency to send him into space as a payload expert.
Now, at the age of 78, he is sitting in the pilot’s seat. As a professional politician, Nelson brought a lifetime of political thought to leading the work of NASA, an agency that is often touted as being able to transcend the chaotic reality of politics.
But NASA is not exactly the same as in 2018, when Nelson failed in the Senate re-election campaign and resigned as a senior member of the Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee. The organization has a first opinion on your nomination. President Joe Biden.
NASA Administrator Bill Nelson held up a photo of the Chinese Mars Rover Zhu Rong at the House of Representatives hearing on May 19, 2021.
NASA Administrator Bill Nelson held up a photo of the Chinese Mars Rover Zhu Rong during a hearing in the House of Representatives on May 19th. 2021. (Image source: NASA TV)
Moon Landing Competition
The biggest change on the agency’s agenda is to speed up the timetable for astronauts to land on the moon again. Previously, the goal for such missions was 2028; In 2019, then-Vice President Mike Pence directed the agency to speed up this timeline to 2024 as part of a broader lunar exploration activity – the event was quickly dubbed Project Artemis. NASA has promised that ground missions in 2024 will include the first woman to land on the moon.
Nelson’s recent comments indicate that he believes it is possible to set a timetable, although it is certainly not easy. But for him, landing on the moon in the near future is more than just accepting instructions and executing them. For Nelson, the Artemis plan is the best way to protect the institution and the country from disappointment on the international stage.
Most importantly, Nelson is concerned about China and does not mind seeing this concern as a cause of fear. He first appeared in Congress as CEO after China announced the first photo taken by Zhu Rong, its first Mars rover, after landing on May 14. At the hearing, Nelson placed copies of the photos in front of the camera twice and explained that he saw threats from the country. He did the same voice on other occasions, including in our interviews.

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