In the pages of Ars Technica, the incomparable Eric Berger tracked down former NASA administrator Charles Bolden and asked him about the current situation at NASA, including the impasse over the nomination of Jim Bridenstine for space agency head. Bolden’s answer was not very interesting, except to prove that he is an even bigger politician than Bridenstine has been accused of being. The real meat of the article is a tidbit about the real motives for Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Florida to try to block the gentleman from Oklahoma’s ascension to NASA administrator.

It’s not the qualifications but rather the independence

Nelson has been bloviating that he opposes Bridenstine because he is too much of a political partisan and that he lacks an engineering and technical knowledge to head NASA. However, Berger offers the following evaluation that casts things in a different light.

“However, Nelson's motivations may not be just the sanctity of NASA's bipartisanship, as Bridenstine may not be pliable enough for the Florida Senator who is looking out for the interests of Kennedy Space Center. Nelson may be more interested in someone like Kennedy's director, Bob Cabana, as a potential Bridenstine replacement.”

The idea that a political hack like Nelson is being less high minded and more interested in petty, political power in opposing Bridenstine.

Ironically, Nelson is hurting his constituents with his opposition, which has expanded to include a crucial part of President Trump’s return to the moon program. A NASA administrator with political acumen steering NASA to return to the moon, especially with commercial partnerships, would have the effect of showering wealth on the Florida space coast.

However, Nelson seems more interested in his political power than the best interests of the people who vote for him.

Bridenstine’s qualification that no one talks about

Nelson has passed on at length about the fact that Bridenstine is not an engineer, scientist, or even astronaut. However, in the brave new world of commercial partnerships, the head of NASA really needs to know more about how businesses run and how to form contracts than he does designing spaceships.

It should be noted that Bridenstine graduated with a triple major in economics, psychology, and business from Rice University, one of the toughest schools in the country. He also got an MBA from Cornel. Bridenstine would, therefore, seem to be the perfect person to deal with the likes of Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos.

About Bill Nye the Science Guy

Meanwhile, bill nye is getting a lot of heat for being Bridenstine’s guest at the State of the Union. Nye has been one of the more fervent advocates of human-caused climate change on the planet. The gentleman from Oklahoma has been called, somewhat unfairly, a climate change “denier.” The environmentalist community is outraged that Nye would even be in the same room as such a person.

Nye is also the head of the Planetary Society, the most significant space exploration advocacy group on the planet. Nye has come a long way from being the host of a children’s science TV show. He may have developed odd beliefs about what causes gender identification, but he does know that it will be useful for him and his organization to have the administrator of NASA as a friend. To paraphrase Alfred Hitchcock, it’s called politics, my dear.