President Biden's nominee for NASA administrator wants to send astronauts to the moon again as soon as possible—just as the Trump administration planned. The program goes beyond politics, former Sen. Bill Nelson said Wednesday in his confirmation hearing, and "has to be continued, regardless of who’s in the majority, of who’s in the presidency." Senators from both parties praised Nelson, a longtime fan of space exploration who flew on the space shuttle in 1986, the Washington Post reports. "And at this moment NASA needs a great advocate that we all can be confident in," said Democratic Sen. Maria Cantwell of Washington. Former Vice President Mike Pence set the 2024 date for the next moon landing under the Artemis program, and many experts don't think it's possible.
"I think you may be pleased that we’re gonna see that timetable try to be adhered to," Nelson said, per the Verge, "but recognize that with some sobering reality that space is hard." The nominee added another bipartisan touch by praising Jim Bridenstine, a former NASA boss who built support for Artemis under President Trump. "If confirmed, I look forward to continuing to work with him and will seek his advice," Nelson said in written testimony. He plans to support NASA's involvement in Biden's climate change initiatives, as he capitalizes on the support built under Trump for returning to the moon. Nelson's nomination is scheduled to go to the full Senate on April 28, and Republicans and Democrats expect smooth sailing. (Read more NASA stories.)