NATIONWIDE — With his family and a moon rock at his side, former U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson took the oath to become NASA's 14th administrator Monday.
What You Need To Know
- Nelson will now oversee NASA's efforts to go to the Moon, Mars
- He was an astronaut on the space shuttle Columbia
- RELATED: Ex-Sen. Bill Nelson confirmed as next NASA administrator
Vice President Kamala Harris swore Nelson in on his family bible. Former NASA administrators Jim Bridenstine and Charlie Bolden also attended, as did Pam Melroy, the nominee for deputy NASA administrator.
As a congressman, Nelson flew aboard the space shuttle Columbia as the payload specialist on STS-61c in 1986.
Nelson was the second sitting member of Congress to fly into space.
The former senator had no trouble getting through the confirmation process. He received unanimous support from the Senate in late April.
During his confirmation hearing, Nelson spoke effusively of the mission to return astronauts to the Moon and going to Mars. It's a mission he will now be overseeing, along with the growing commercial space program.
He also spoke to the importance of bringing more people of color and women into NASA.
“There’s plenty of opportunity for expansion in the future and we’re going to try and do that,” Nelson said.
He also said increasing STEM engagement is critical for the future of NASA.