May 4, 2021 11:21:14 AM
Former Florida Senator Bill Nelson was sworn in as head of NASA Monday and welcomed a “new day” for space exploration as the United States attempts to return to the moon. Nelson handed over a Bible and was sworn in to Vice President Kamala Harris when he officially assumed the role of NASA administrator. “It’s a new day in space,” he said after bringing a moonstone to the event. Nelson, 78, who went into space in 1986, is taking over the agency with the United States in hopes of getting the astronauts back to the moon by 2024.
Humans last set foot on the moon in 1972 during the Apollo program.
As part of the Artemis program, NASA wants to establish a permanent presence with a lunar space station to test new technologies that would pave the way for a crewed mission to Mars.
In 2019, then-Vice President Mike Pence urged NASA to land the first woman and next man on the moon by 2024, and President Joe Biden’s administration supported the same schedule.
Charlie Bolden, Administrator under Barack Obama, attended the ceremony Monday while former Administrator Jim Bridenstine, who served under Donald Trump, participated in a video call.
Nelson said your presence was “to demonstrate the continuity and impartiality with which you lead the country’s space program, particularly NASA.”
In 1986, Nelson, a sedentary legislator, was a crew member of the Space Shuttle Columbia during a six-day space mission and has since served on numerous congressional space and science committees.
“NASA is essential to the national and economic security of the United States,” Harris said on Twitter. “With decades of experience and as a former astronaut, Bill Nelson will advance NASA’s scientific, aerospace and technological missions as an administrator. “”
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