Agence France-PresseMay 4, 2021 11:21:14 AMT
Former Florida Senator Bill Nelson vowed Monday as NASA director and greeted a “new day” in search of space as the United States seeks to return to the moon. In his hand at the Bible, Nelson swore in the position of Vice President Kamala Harris when he officially took on the role of NASA administrator. “It’s a new day in space,” he said, bringing the lunar rock to the event. Nelson, 78, who traveled into space in 1986, will take the agency with the United States, hoping to put the astronauts back on the Moon by 2024.
Humans last settled on the Moon in 1972 during the Apollo program.
In the Artemis program, NASA wants to create a sustainable presence, including a lunar space station, to test new technologies that would pave the way for the crew to Mars.
In 2019, Vice President Mike Pence challenged NASA to land the first woman and the next man by 2024, and the government of President Joe Biden has supported the same schedule.
Barack Obama’s administrative officer Charlie Bolden attended a ceremony on Monday when former administrator Jim Bridenstine, who served Donald Trump, joined in a video call.
Nelson said their presence was “a demonstration of continuity and cooperation between the two sides in managing the Earth’s space program, particularly NASA.”
Seated in 1986, legislator Nelson was a crew member on the Space Shuttle in Columbia during his six-day space mission and has since served on many of the space and science committees of Congress.
“NASA is critical to U.S. national and financial security,” Harris said on Twitter. “With decades of experience and a former astronaut, Bill Nelson leads NASA’s science, aerospace and technology operations as an administrator.”