President Trump has nominated Rep. Jim Bridenstine (R-OK) to lead NASA. Bridenstine had been lobbying for the job since the days of Trump's transition team.
Here are five things you need to know about Bridenstine.
1. Bridenstine has a 97% Liberty Score rating on Conservative Review. This means that if Bridenstine is confirmed, a staunch conservative would be leading NASA.
2. Bridenstine doesn't really have a background in science. Bridenstine studied economics, business and psychology at Rice University and was involved in Navy aviation. Before he was elected to Congress, he was serving as the Tulsa Air and Space Museum's executive director; he has conducted business in aerospace and defense contracting. However, Bridenstine was endorsed by the Commercial Spaceflight Federation for being "well versed on the broad spectrum on civil, commercial, military space."
3. Bridenstine is not a believer in man-made climate change. Bridenstine said the following on the floor of the House of Representatives in 2013: (H/T: USA Today)
Mr. Speaker, global temperatures stopped rising 10 years ago. Global temperature changes, when they exist, correlate with Sun output and ocean cycles. During the Medieval Warm Period from 800 to 1300 A.D. —long before cars, power plants, or the Industrial Revolution—temperatures were warmer than today. During the Little Ice Age from 1300 to 1900 A.D., temperatures were cooler. Neither of these periods were caused by any human activity. Even climate change alarmists admit that the number of hurricanes hitting the U.S. and the number of tornado touchdowns have been on a slow decline for over 100 years. But here's what we absolutely know. We know that Oklahoma will have tornadoes when the cold jet stream meets the warm gulf air. And we also know that this President spends 30 times as much money on global warming research as he does on weather forecasting and warning. For this gross misallocation, the people of Oklahoma are ready to accept the President's apology, and I intend to submit legislation to fix this.
Given that NASA has been involved in politicizing and fudging data figures with regard to climate change, Bridenstine would help clean NASA from politicization and lead it back toward science.
4. Bridenstine believes that America should use the moon as a station to refuel spacecraft. Mark Whittington of The Hill has argued that Bridenstine would be an excellent choice to lead NASA partly because of his idea of using the moon as a refueling station. Bridenstine has argued that water ice on the moon should be used as a fuel source since it can be molded into liquid hydrogen and oxygen that can be used for spacecraft. Not only would the moon become a refueling station for NASA's Journey to Mars initiative, it could also be used to lower the cost of living for Americans.
"Government and commercial satellite operators could save hundreds of millions of dollars by servicing their satellites with resources from the Moon rather than disposing of, and replacing, their expensive investments," Bridenstine wrote in a blog post. "Eventually, the customers of Direct TV, Dish Network, internet broadband from space, satellite radio, weather data, and others could see their bills reduced and their service capacities greatly increased."
Bridenstine's idea could end up being a game changer for space exploration and everyday technology on Earth. This is why Whittington argues that despite Bridenstine's lack of scientific experience, his vision of space exploration warrants him as a fantastic person to lead NASA.
5. Bridenstine's confirmation is not a sure thing. With the Senate Democrats united in opposition to Trump's nominees — especially to a conservative like Bridenstine who doesn't believe in man-made climate change — Trump's nominees can only afford to lose two Republicans in the Senate. One, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), has been reluctant to support Bridenstine to lead NASA: (H/T: USA Today)
“NASA is at a critical juncture in history, and it is important that its mission remain free of politics and partisanship,” he said in a statement. “I want to be without reservation because the space industry is too important to Florida's economy. The agency cannot afford controversy or a delay in the nomination process. I look forward to looking closely at Representative Bridenstine’s record and ensuring that Florida continues to play a leading role in America’s space program.”
Rubio had more pointed words in an interview with Politico where he worried about Bridenstine’s “political baggage.”
Rubio claimed that he didn't hold a grudge against Bridenstine for leveling ads against him during the 2016 presidential primary, when Bridenstine was an ardent supporter of Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX). Still, the fact that Rubio, an establishment-conservative hybrid, is reluctant to support him doesn't bode well for Bridenstine. Trump will have to put pressure on Senate Republicans to ensure that his guy can lead NASA.