Bridenstine wins a Democrat's support for NASA's top job

Jim Bridenstine has been nominated to lead the National Aeronautics and Space Administration as its 13th administrator. It is my honor to support his nomination.

NASA’s mission is to go where no one has gone before, explore the unknown, and reveal the secrets of the universe for the benefit of America and the world. This iconic agency has been at the forefront of scientific discovery for almost 60 years. Jim Bridenstine is well-equipped to lead NASA as it develops return missions to the moon, sends astronauts to Mars, explores distant planets and their moons, looks into deep space from the Hubble and soon-to-be launched James Webb Space Telescopes, and assists with understanding the sun and both short- and long-term weather patterns.

I serve with Bridenstine on the House Science, Space and Technology Committee. My first real interaction with him occurred a number of years ago when he visited Colorado to meet with scientists, engineers and technicians from a number of our universities, national laboratories and aerospace companies. I found him to be a good listener and well adept at understanding a lot of technical jargon. His background as a naval aviator made it easier for him to absorb and understand the concepts being discussed by the scientists and engineers. He was particularly attentive to the representatives of the National Center for Atmospheric Research and their research about the climate and long-term weather patterns.

Since that meeting Bridenstine and I have worked on a number of bipartisan measures involving space exploration and scientific research and discovery. He understands the role commercial space companies will play in the ensuing years, as well as the national and international effort it will take to send our astronauts to Mars by 2033. He has proved time and time again that he will put in the work necessary to understand an issue and reach across the aisle to get things done.

Over the next decade, NASA will be presented with countless opportunities to advance our understanding of Earth and the solar system. Our exploration goals require a leader committed to NASA’s diverse directorates supporting technological and scientific development. Jim Bridenstine has a firsthand perspective on the need to better understand our Earth and the behavior of the atmosphere. He has a keen awareness of the important Earth science missions NASA is undertaking and wants to continue to advance our understanding of the planet.

Despite our different political parties I am convinced Bridenstine will lead the brilliant scientists, engineers, technicians and outstanding personnel at NASA as it embarks on a new era of space exploration and scientific discovery. He fought for our country on the battlefield and fought for common-sense space policy in Congress. Now is the time for Jim Bridenstine to take command and grow NASA’s capabilities and American leadership in space as NASA administrator.

U.S. Rep. Ed Perlmutter is a Democrat from Colorado.

Content originally published by the Orlando Sentinel on October 22, 2017.

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