Bill Nelson: Former astronaut and senator nominated as Nasa chief

US President Joe Biden has nominated former Senator Bill Nelson to serve as the 14th NASA Administrator. Nelson will serve as NASA’s chief executive officer and will be directly accountable to President Biden. In this role, he will articulate the space agency’s vision, will set its programmatic and budget priorities, internal policies and assess the agency’s performance.

In a statement, Mr Nelson said Nasa’s workforce “radiates optimism, ingenuity and a can-do spirit.” He added: “The Nasa team continues to achieve the seemingly impossible as we venture into the cosmos.” Mr Nelson was a driving force behind Nasa’s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket, which was conceived in the wake of an Obama-era overhaul of the US space programme. He will succeed Jim Bridenstine, who led the agency for almost three years under the Trump administration. Nelson joined the Florida Legislature in 1972, the federal House of Representatives in 1978, the Florida Cabinet in 1994 and the Senate in 2000. As a Democrat in the Senate, Nelson represented Florida for 18 years and was a leading architect of the agency’s current strategy to pursue both governmental and commercial space exploration, according to the White House statement.