Jim Bridenstine is no longer an Oklahoma Congressman. He has been sworn in as the new Administrator at NASA.
Vice President Mike Pence swore him in during ceremonies on Monday and immediately Bridenstine received a phone call from three U.S. astronauts on board the International Space Station who offered him “hearty congratulations.”
Bridenstine is officially the 13th administrator of NASA.
“America loves what you guys are doing,” said Bridenstine in the phone call with the astronauts. And he promised to do his best “as we reach for new heights and reveal the unknown for the benefit of humankind.”
He also met with NASA leadership and expressed support for carrying out the agency’s exploration, science and aeronautics programs.
“In the last few days, I have heard numerous times, ‘Welcome to the NASA family.’ It does truly feel like a family here and I am so humbled to be a part of it,” he said in comments at that meeting, briefly open to the media. “This is truly an exciting time for NASA, and I’m very excited about our future.”
Pence also attended that meeting, where he touched upon familiar themes of advancing American leadership in space, according to SpaceNews.
“The president really believes, and I do as well, that NASA plays a critical role of giving expression to that pioneering spirit that is at the very heart of what it is to be an American,” he said. “In the years ahead we’re going to be focusing on all of those aspects of how we can redouble our commitment to leadership here at NASA.”
“President Trump’s vision, and I would share with all the leadership gathered here today, is very clear: that the United States will retain and expand our rightful role as the world’s premier spacefaring nation,” Pence said. He added that Bridenstine and Pence would meet with President Trump in the Oval Office shortly after the meeting.
Neither Pence nor Bridenstine offered any new policy details in their remarks at the meeting or the swearing-in ceremony, and Bridenstine didn’t discuss specific plans for his initial days of running NASA.
Bridenstine was confirmed last week by the U.S. Senate, thereby becoming the first elected official to ever head NASA.
During the ceremony, the vice president said under Bridenstine, NASA will get to work sending astronauts back to the moon and then on to Mars.
“NASA will lead the way,” said Pence.