Bill Nelson grew up near Cape Canaveral. His grandparents were homesteaders on what is now Kennedy Space Center property. And this former Florida legislator and politician who won election to Congress, serving in both the House and Senate is NASA’s new Administrator. In fact, Nelson is NASA’s 14th administrator.
He had actually suggested others for the job. But the Biden administration wanted the man who grew up on the Space Coast and flew onboard the space shuttle in 1986 at the helm.
From the “get-go” Nelson has a very clear vision and set of priorities for the space agency.
“The vision is go explore the heavens with humans and machines and in the process go back to the moon with the first woman and the next man and then on to Mars,” said Nelson in his first television interview as NASA administrator with News4Jax anchor Bruce Hamilton.
“To take this incredible scientific team, that’s where we make the machines that if you want to mitigate the climate you have to measure it. And NASA makes all those very delicate spacecraft that help us understand what’s happening to our climate, what’s happening to our planet and for us in Florida all the forecasts come from NASA made spacecraft,” he said.
While his underlying vision is to explore the heavens with humans and machines, as he puts it, Nelson still sees U.S. astronauts returning to the moon in the near future. The target is 2024. Though he hedges a bit on the date.
“It is doable, but space is hard and whenever you are developing the cutting edge technologies to further expand the cosmos frequently there are delays,” Nelson said. “But 2024 is doable.”
Nelson also wants NASA to build on the partnerships with Elon Musk’s SpaceX and Jeff Bezos’ Blue Horizons as well other commercial enterprises and further grow the United States space program.