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Former Senator Bill Nelson was ceremonially sworn in as the 14th NASA Administrator by Vice President Kamala Harris on Monday, May 3 at the Ceremonial Office in the Old Executive Office Building in Washington D.C.

Former NASA Administrators Jim Bridenstine (virtually on laptop) and Charles Bolden, second from left, were also present.

Mrs. Grace Nelson, the former senator’s wife, held the family Bible, as their son, Bill Nelson Jr., third from left, and Nan Ellen Nelson, fourth from left, looked on. A moon rock collected by astronaut John Young during the Apollo 16 mission was on display  Photo Credit: (NASA/Aubrey Gemignani)

In January 1986, Nelson became the second sitting member of Congress to fly in space when he served as a payload specialist on the Space Shuttle Columbia. Before entering politics he served in the U.S. Army Reserve during the Vietnam War.

After entering politics in the 1970s, he served in the Florida House of Representatives from 1972 to 1978 and in the United States House of Representatives from 1979 to 1991. He was the United States Senator from Florida from 2001 to 2019.

In the U.S. Senate, he served as Ranking Member of the Senate Commerce Committee for four years. In May 2019, Nelson was appointed to serve on NASA’s advisory council.

On March 19, President Joe Biden announced his intention to nominate Nelson to lead the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. Nelson was confirmed by unanimous consent by the United States Senate on April 29, and sworn in by Vice President Harris on May 3.

Nelson appeared before the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, Wednesday, April 21 in Washington D.C.

After his U.S. Senate confirmation as the 14th administrator of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, Nelson said: “I am honored by the President’s nomination and the Senate vote. I will try to merit that trust. Onward and upward!”

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