NASA’s New Director

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President Trump recently selected his pick for NASA administrator, Jim Bridenstine. Bridenstine is an Oklahoma Congressman who is a veteran Navy combat pilot, and currently serves in the Oklahoma Air National Guard. His appointment caused a lot of controversy, with many people saying that a politician should not be the head of a space science program.

Bridenstine graduated from Rice University and majored in economics, business, and psychology, and also has a NBA from Cornell University. He has shown interest in the moon, and recently said that the discovery of water and ice on the moon should have led to a more permanent outpost being constructed there, in order to minimize the cost of future lunar research. He is quoted as saying, “America must forever be the pre-eminent spacefaring nation and the moon is a path to being so.” That being said, he does have more controversial views regarding climate change. He does not believe in the idea that climate change is based on the actions of humans, and instead thinks that the temperature of the Earth naturally fluctuates independently of carbon emissions and other fossil fuels used by humans. He has also said that the United States’ carbon emissions were not significant enough to have a large impact on the climate, assuming humans are the cause of climate change, when compared to other global superpowers like India and China. These views worried many, as NASA is one of the leading forces in studying climate change. Bridenstine said he was not entirely against studying climate change: “I’m a guy that comes from Oklahoma and I have absolutely no problem studying the climate. That’s what these assets do. They study the climate. There’s nothing wrong with that.” However, as Bridenstine has been appointed by President Trump and most likely reflects his opinions on climate change, it appears to be unlikely that studying climate change will be one of his main priorities.

There has also been some push back from other senators and representatives saying that a politician should not head NASA. Two of these people are Florida senators Marco Rubio and Bill Nelson. According to Nelson, “The head of NASA ought to be a space professional, not a politician,” because of the fact that political views could strongly influence which projects receive funding and such. According to Rubio, “It’s the one federal mission which has largely been free of politics and it’s at a critical juncture in its history…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.” Overall, Bridenstine’s focus seems to be aimed at the advancement of NASA, but may be blinded by his political views.

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