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Space
A woman as NASA administrator ?
A woman as NASA administrator ?

| Pierre-François Mouriaux

A woman as NASA administrator ?

Speculations on the rise about who will replace Jim Brindestine as NASA administrator.

A future departure

The current NASA administrator Jim Brindestine, whose nomination until Trump administration (In April 2018) was complicate, would be replaced in 2021.

This former United States Representative for Oklahoma 1st congressional district made good work during his two years and half as head of NASA, in particular about Presidential project to go back to the Moon. For this purpose, Brindestine worked with most of space powers about  the future cis-lunar Gateway station (with mainly Europe), Japan and Canada) and within the framework of the Artemis Agreements (with Australia, Canada, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, the United Arab Emirates and the United Kingdom), which define the principles of cooperation in the exploration and use of the Moon, Mars, comets and asteroids for peaceful purposes.

If Brindestine has bipartisan support in Congress, he recognized himself, when he was asked by Aviation Week and Space Technology he surely would not be maintained at his position : « You need someone who has a close relationship with the President of the United States ... someone you can trust in the administration ... including the OMB [Office of Management and Budget], the National Space Council, the National Security Council. I don't think I would be the right person for that in a new administration. "It has been by far the best experience of my life, and I am very grateful for it," he added. »

 

Five serious candidates

For the first time in NASA history, Biden administration could replace Brindestine as NASA administrator by a woman.

The first name who circulated during Biden campaign was Kendra Horn, US Representative for Oklahoma who is also member of Committee on Armed Services and Committee on Science, Space and Technology and who previously served as Manager of Communication and Media Relations for the Space Foundation.

A transition team in charge of the US Space agency was created since then, and five members into eight are women : astrophysicist at Dartmouth College Jedidah Isler ; Bhavya Lal who is Researcher on Science and Technology Policy at Institute for Defense Analyses ; Pamela Melroy, former NASA astronaut who commanded mission in the space who worked in DARPA and FAA ; the Director of the National Air and Space Museum Ellen Stofan ; and Shannon Valey from Georgia Institute of Technology.

Pamela Melroy and Ellen Stofan (who is leading the transition team) appear to be serious contenders for the position of director, while two other names are circulating: Wanda Austin, former President and CEO of Aerospace Corporation, and Wanda Sigur, former Vice President and General Manager of the Civil Space Department at Lockheed Martin.

 Since August 1958, thirteen men have officially succeeded each other at the head of NASA (not including temporary staff). Daniel Goldin is the longest serving President (between April 1992 and November 2001), under three different presidencies (George Bush Sr., Bill Clinton and George Bush Jr.).

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