Posts Tagged ‘Bill Nelson’

Congress Holds the Purse Strings

February 4, 2010
U.S. Senator Bill Nelson, of Florida.

Image via Wikipedia

The debate is by no means over – it just will shift venues.  Congress holds the purse strings – and the Constellation program has some very powerful supporters on both sides of the building and both sides of the aisle. One of them Senator Richard Shelby of Alabama – home of the Marshall Spaceflight Center.  He blasted the Obama Administration – saying: Congress “cannot and will not sit back and watch the reckless abandonment of sound principles, a proven track record, a steady path to success, and the destruction of our human space flight program.  Constellation is the only path forward that maintains America’s leadership in space.”

Well, that’s a taste of the debate to come. We also caught up with the only current member of Congress who has flown in space  – Senator Bill Nelson of Florida.

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Obama Ponders the Future of Human Space Flight

January 24, 2010

384659main_Report_WidgetMy name is Miles O’Brien and and I drive a truck. Now can I go to the Senate – and insist our space program gets a little more scratch – so we can once again scratch the surface of another world – with human boots? Apparently not – and for those of you who space lovers who like to read tea leaves – the picture is not pretty this week at all…

The first omen came from the President’s political guru David Axelrod – who told reporters when it comes to space “The president is going to speak to that through his budget”  – meaning no uplifting Obama oratory that aims us for the stars.

Not good according to Democratic senator – and onetime shuttle payload specialist – Bill Nelson- He says he’s told the White House  “that that’s a mistake…I hope they are reconsidering that the President comes out and makes his own statement about what he plans for the future of NASA…”

All this talk is putting the DC rumor mill into warp drive – Space News reports “Obama’s 2011 budget request is no longer expected to include the $1 billion boost that has undergirded NASA’s planning.” Remember what the Augustine commission told us over the summer – you can’t get beyond low earth orbit on a shoestring – the committee said NASA should get $3 billion more a year. Houston, we could really have a problem…

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Orlando Sentinel – Nelson's "iron will" leads to NASA frontrunner

May 16, 2009

nelsonOrlando Sentinel – Nelson’s “iron will” leads to NASA frontrunner.

If retired Marine Corps Gen. and former astronaut Charlie Bolden emerges as the next NASA administrator he has one man to thank for it: Florida’s senior Democratic Senator Bill Nelson.

Nelson has tirelessly — some would say  obnoxiously — pushed for his old friend and the man who piloted the shuttle that Nelson flew on in 1986, where earned the nickname “Ballast” from fellow astronauts.

NASA's next administrator ready to launch: Charles Bolden

May 15, 2009
Col CharlesBolden USMC

Image by Judge Rock via Flickr

The stories you read about Charlie Bolden getting the nod as the next NASA Administrator have a good deal of truthiness to them. He is apparently teed up for the nation’s premier space management gig, but that said, I am told he has not yet been officially been offered the job.

His name has been a stubborn occupant in the hopper of candidates for a lot of good reasons, African American born in the segregated south who makes it to Annapolis, the Marines, fighters, test piloting and eventually space shuttling. He was the commander of the mission before Challenger’s last – carrying a young congressman from Florida by the name of Bill Nelson to space and back. Now Senator Nelson has worked tirelessly to lobby for his Commander. Bolden also happens to be a great guy who doesn’t just have the right stuff – he knows his stuff.

So why did this take so long? Two issues: there is some concern that a former astronaut should not occupy the corner office on the 9th floor at NASA HQ – that they would focus too much on the white scarf squad – and not enough on NASA’s chronically needy, yet scientifically significant robotic missions. And there is also the lobbying: Bolden has lobbied for the rocket builder ATK.

Apparently the White House is now over both issues – and soon Charlie Bolden will put “Code A” (NASA parlance for the Administrator) on his already storied resume.

As for who will be his deputy; the winner is Lori Garver – who has run the Obama transition at NASA. She is a former NASA deputy
administrator – and once tried a quixotic campaign to fly in space (“put a mom in tennis shoes in orbit” as I recall).

So now can we get on with the post shuttle plan already? The Space Cadet Nation should feel em-Boldened at this news.