Ending almost fourteen months of temporary leadership at NASA, Republican Congressman Jim Bridenstine of Oklahoma was sworn in Monday afternoon as the new leader of the space agency, as Trump Administration officials vow that Bridenstine will help revive manned space exploration efforts by the United States.
After taking the oath – with his wife and three children at his side – Bridenstine told NASA employees that he was committed to seeing that the U.S. remains the world’s leader in space.
“I will do my best to serve our storied agency to the utmost of my abilities, as we reach for new heights, as we reveal the unknown for the benefit for human kind,” Bridenstine said.
“NASA represents what is best about the United States of America,” Bridenstine added.
“We lead, we discover, we pioneer and we inspire. I look forward to our journey together.”
“It’s an important moment in the life of this agency,” said Vice President Mike Pence, who trekked over to NASA Headquarters for the swearing-in, again saying that President Trump is strongly behind a forward-looking NASA.
“We will send American astronauts back to the moon,” Pence said,’ vowing that the Trump Administration will lay the groundwork for travels to Mars.
“And NASA will lead the way,” the Vice President said to applause.
Bridenstine’s nomination was bitterly opposed by many Democrats in the Congress, who bristled at his conservative political views, and questioned his lack of space expertise, which also gave a handful of GOP Senators second thoughts.
But after months of delay, the White House was able to convince Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) to vote for Bridenstine, pushing him over the top to a bare majority confirmation vote of 50-49 last week.
Bridenstine inherits an agency which just saw a big boost in its budget courtesy of a recent spending deal in the Congress, as NASA for the first time now has a yearly budget of over $20 billion.
“He will be an excellent leader,” said Rep. Ted Cruz (R-TX), who was one of a handful of lawmakers there for the ceremony.
After the swearing-in and Bridenstine’s remarks, NASA then checked in by video relay with several astronauts aboard the International Space Station.
“I thank you for being part of the vanguard in space,” said the Vice President.