First District Congressman Jim Bridenstine recently had a second interview with Trump administration officials about a position in the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, the three-term Republican said late last week.
“It went well,” Bridenstine said, “but I have not had anything offered.”
Space industry insiders believe Bridenstine is a front-runner for the top job at NASA. He does not fit the job’s historic profile, but is viewed as perhaps Congress’ most knowledgeable and influential member regarding space policy.
Almost all previous NASA administrators have had engineering backgrounds with careers in the space industry. Bridenstine does not have the formal science training of those predecessors, but he is a military pilot and did work briefly in the aerospace sector before becoming director of Tulsa’s Air and Space Museum and winning election to Congress.
From his position on the House Science, Space and Technology Committee, Bridenstine has emerged as a favorite of the commercial space industry while also advocating for more federal spending on things such as large launch vehicles and communications security.
He has also advocated for space exploration and development of the moon’s resources, especially hydrogen-rich ice that could be converted to rocket fuel.
During a town hall last Tuesday night, Bridenstine warned of threats to military and civilian communication satellites and noted China’s accelerating moon exploration program.
“NASA is something that Republicans and Democrats both like,” Bridenstine said in a separate interview. “It’s something everybody wants to do.”