A politician who said politicians shouldn’t run NASA wants to run NASA

Enlarge / Then Rep. Bill Nelson (D-Fla., at bottom) undergoing zero-gravity training onboard a KC-135 along with other astronaut trainees in 1985. On his right is schoolteacher Christa McAuliffe, who died along with seven other crew members in the Challenger disaster. (credit: Bettman | Getty Images)

On Monday a rumor that has simmered in Washington for several weeks boiled to the surface—that former US Senator Bill Nelson, a Democrat from Florida, is a leading contender to become the next NASA administrator.

The publication Breaking Defense publicly shared the rumor on Twitter, noting that Nelson has a “strong” relationship with President Biden and understands how Congress works. Nelson, 78 years old, lost his 2018 bid for reelection to the Senate. He had served six terms as a member of the House of Representatives and three terms in the upper house.

Two sources told Ars that Nelson is pushing hard to become administrator and is leveraging his friendly relationship with Biden to do so. “This is more than a rumor,” one source said. However, it is also not a done deal, as after the rumor broke there was pushback in the space community about the appointment of Nelson to the position, who has a long and at times contentious history in the space community.

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