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Jim Bridenstine

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Jim Bridenstine
NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine Official Portrait (NHQ201907240001).jpg
Bridenstine in 2019
13th Administrator of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration
Assumed office
April 23, 2018
PresidentDonald Trump
DeputyJames Morhard
Preceded byCharles Bolden
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Oklahoma's 1st district
In office
January 3, 2013 – April 23, 2018
Preceded byJohn A. Sullivan
Succeeded byKevin Hern
Personal details
Born
James Frederick Bridenstine

(1975-06-15) June 15, 1975 (age 45)
Ann Arbor, Michigan, U.S.
Political partyRepublican
Spouse(s)
Michelle Ivory
(m. 2004)
Children3
EducationRice University (BA)
Cornell University (MBA)
Military service
Allegiance United States
Branch/service United States Navy
 United States Air Force
Years of service1998–2007 (Active)
2010–2015 (Reserve)
2015–present (Air National Guard)
Rank
US-O4 insignia.svg
Lieutenant Commander (Active)
US-O4 insignia.svg
Lieutenant Commander (Reserve)
US-O4 insignia.svg
Major (Air National Guard)
UnitOklahoma Air National Guard
Battles/warsWar on Terrorism
Afghanistan Campaign
Awards

James Frederick Bridenstine (born June 15, 1975) is an American politician and the Administrator of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). Bridenstine was the United States Representative for Oklahoma's 1st congressional district, based in Tulsa from January 3, 2013 to April 23, 2018. He is a member of the Republican Party.

On September 1, 2017, President Donald Trump nominated Bridenstine to be the Administrator of NASA; he was confirmed by the U.S. Senate on April 19, 2018, by a party-line vote of 50–49. Bridenstine was on the Committee on Science, Space and Technology during his time in Congress. He is the first elected official to be appointed NASA Administrator.[1]

Bridenstine plans to resign as the head of NASA on January 20, 2021.[2]

Early life and education

Bridenstine was born on June 15, 1975 in Ann Arbor, Michigan.[3] He grew up in Arlington, Texas, the son of an elementary school teacher and an accountant,[4] where he became an Eagle Scout.

His family moved to Tulsa, Oklahoma, during his junior year of high school, and during his senior year he was captain of the Jenks High School swim team and Oklahoma Swimmer of the Year;[4] as of mid-2016, was one of a team of four that held the Oklahoma state record in the 200 meter freestyle relay for age group 17-18.[5]

Bridenstein graduated from Jenks High School in 1993,[6] and earned a scholarship to Rice University in Houston, Texas, but injured his shoulder during his sophomore year; he took five years to graduate,[4] in 1998, with majors in Economics, Psychology, and Business, and has an MBA from Cornell University,[7] awarded in 2009.[8]

Early career

Bridenstine joined the Navy in May 1998,[9] after graduating from Rice University.[4] He was a Naval Aviator in both the active duty United States Navy and the United States Naval Reserve. He flew the E-2C Hawkeye aircraft as part of a carrier air wing with the U.S. Navy and in Central and South America in support of the War on Drugs with the Naval Reserve. He later moved to the F-18 Hornet and flew at the Naval Strike and Air Warfare Center, in Nevada[10]

In 2006, Bridenstine bought stock in the Rocket Racing League (RRL),[11] which planned to begin races in 2008. In January 2007, he met with Tulsa city officials, asking for support for establishing a team in that city,[6] and later in 2007 he invested in an RRL team.[11]

In 2007, after the end of his active duty in the Navy, the Bridenstine moved to Orlando, Florida, where he worked at Wyle Laboratories, a defense consulting firm.[8] In 2008, Bridenstine and his family moved back to Tulsa to be closer to his family,[4] and he became the chief pilot for the Tulsa team of the RRL.[12]

In December 2008, Bridenstine became the executive director of the Tulsa Air and Space Museum.[9] In November 2009, he proposed to the head of RRL that the league put on an air show in Tulsa,[11] and in February 2010 the museum announced that it would partner with RRL for the show.[13] The April 2010 show attracted around 40,000 spectators,[14] but lost $330,000, and overall fundraising events for the museum for 2010 lost $400,000.[4] Bridenstine left the executive director's position in August 2010, along with the museum's financial controller and the director of marketing.[15]

In 2010, Bridenstine began serving in the Navy Reserve. In 2015, two years after become a U.S. Representative, he transferred his Reserve commission and joined the Oklahoma Air National Guard.[16][non-primary source needed]

U.S. House of Representatives

Bridenstine's official congressional portrait, 2013
Bridenstine's official congressional portrait, 2013

Elections

2012


In September 2011, Bridenstine launched a campaign to unseat five-term incumbent U.S. Congressman John Sullivan. Bridenstein won the June 2012 Republican primary election with 54% of the vote. Although he identified with the Tea Party and was perceived as running to Sullivan's right, Bridenstine's actual policy statements differed little from those of Sullivan.[17][18][19][20]

Bridenstine had effectively clinched a seat in Congress by ousting Sullivan in the Republican primary. The 1st is a heavily Republican district with a Cook Partisan Voting Index of R+16, and has been in Republican hands since 1987. In the November 2012 general election, Bridenstine defeated Democratic nominee John Olson 63%–32%, winning all five counties in the district.[21]

2014

Bridenstine ran unopposed in the 2014 election. His top campaign contributors were Northrop Grumman, Latshaw Drilling, American Optometric Association, Citizens United and the Every Republican is Crucial Political Action Committee.[22] He received $29,000 from donors associated with the Turquoise Council of Americans and Eurasians and the Assembly of the Friends of Azerbaijan (AFAZ), per an analysis of the Center for Responsive Politics.[23]

2016

Bridenstine retained his seat in the U.S. House of Representatives in the 2016 election.[24] Following the 2016 presidential election, Bridenstine was viewed as a possible candidate for either NASA administrator or Secretary of the Air Force under the Donald Trump administration.[25] Bridenstine had already declared that he would not run for re-election in 2018 after making a three-term pledge.[26]

Committee assignments

Bridenstine sat on the Committee on Armed Services and Committee on Science, Space and Technology during the 113th,[27] 114th,[28] and 115th Congresses.[29]

Within the Armed Services Committee, Bridenstine has sat on the Subcommittee on Seapower and Projection Forces[30] and Subcommittee on Strategic Forces.[31] Within the Science Committee, Bridenstine has sat on the Subcommittee on Environment (Chairman)[32] and Subcommittee on Space.[33] He is a member of the Freedom Caucus[34] and the House Baltic Caucus.[35]

Ethics investigation

Bridenstine's amendment to the defense appropriations bill came following a visit to Baku upon invitation of the State Oil Company of the Azerbaijan Republic for ten members of Congress and 32 staff members; the visit became the subject of an ethics investigation.[36] The members received numerous gifts during the trip totaling thousands of dollars in value. In 2013, Bridenstine returned two of the gifts (a pair of rugs worth several thousand dollars) to the donor; he had been the only lawmaker to disclose gifts from the trip on his financial disclosure forms.[36] In 2015, he turned over remaining gifts received during the trip to the House Clerk, around the time that a watchdog report that indicated that the source of the funding for the trip had not been properly declared.[37] The OCE and House Ethics committee found that lawmakers and aides had no way of knowing that the trip was funded improperly.[37]

NASA administrator

Bridenstine is sworn in as NASA's thirteenth administrator by Vice President Mike Pence.
Bridenstine is sworn in as NASA's thirteenth administrator by Vice President Mike Pence.

Nomination

On September 1, 2017, the White House announced that Bridenstine was President Donald Trump's preferred pick to head NASA. The choice was quickly criticized by both Republican and Democratic politicians, saying that NASA should be headed by a "space professional", not a politician or a Trump ally.[38] Critics drew attention to Bridenstine's lack of formal qualifications in science or engineering, unlike previous appointees to that post.[39][40] Florida Republican Senator Marco Rubio said that Bridenstine's political history could prove controversial and delay the confirmation process, saying "I just think it could be devastating for the space program", while Democratic Senator Bill Nelson, also of Florida and a former Payload Specialist for NASA who flew on STS-61-C, said "The head of NASA ought to be a space professional, not a politician."[41][40]

CNN found that Bridenstine's Facebook, YouTube and Twitter accounts had been entirely deleted, while most of the interviews on his Soundcloud were deleted, at a time when Congress would be examining his record for his confirmation hearing.[42]

Bridenstine has criticized NASA spending on climate science and has supported increased privatization of U.S. civil and military space activities.[39] According to NPR, Bridenstine's past climate change denial views "are sure to alarm scientists, because NASA conducts a huge amount of the global research on climate change."[43] NASA finds that climate-warming trends are "extremely likely due to human activities" and has written on its website that "the small amount of dissent tends to come from a few vocal scientists who are not experts in the climate field or do not understand the scientific basis of long-term climate processes".[44] Since his confirmation, Bridenstine has said that he agrees with the scientific consensus around human contributions to climate change.[45]

Eric Stallmer, president of the Commercial Spaceflight Federation, said he was "very impressed with [Bridenstine's] deep knowledge of space technology issues and his record of strong leadership in promoting positive change."[46] The decision to pick Bridenstine was also praised by Senator Ted Cruz.[47]

According to Science Magazine, "many expect that Bridenstine, who has written about the commercial potential of exploiting lunar resources, could shift the agency's emphasis [from its long-term mission of sending humans to Mars] toward the moon."[38] ABC News wrote that Bridenstine was in favor of both human missions to the Moon and Mars.[44][48]

The U.S. Senate confirmed Bridenstine on April 19, 2018, by a party-line vote of 50–49.[49][50][51] He became the first member of Congress to lead NASA.[44] Bridenstine was sworn in by Vice President Mike Pence at the NASA Headquarters building in Washington, D.C. on April 23, 2018.[52][53][54]

Space Launch System

Bridenstine speaking in front of the SLS Core for the Artemis 1 mission
Bridenstine speaking in front of the SLS Core for the Artemis 1 mission

In March 2019, Mike Pence pushed NASA to land humans on the Moon in 2024 instead of the initially planned 2028.[55] Bridenstine stated that in order for it to happen, the Space Launch System would need to be accelerated, along with various other aspects such as the LOP-G, an orbiting space station around the Moon. Bridenstine also considered commercial Heavy-Lift rockets such as the Delta IV Heavy or Falcon Heavy. The idea was scrapped due to the logistical issue of docking an Orion and a European Service Module and the aerodynamics of using a Falcon Heavy.[56]

Private space companies

Bridenstine, Elon Musk and NASA astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley in front of the Crew Dragon that is being prepared for the Crew Dragon Demo-2 mission.
Bridenstine, Elon Musk and NASA astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley in front of the Crew Dragon that is being prepared for the Crew Dragon Demo-2 mission.

Bridenstine established a working relationship with SpaceX CEO and Founder Elon Musk. Following the DM-1 mission in March 2019, Musk posited the need for humans to have a base on the Moon, to which Bridenstine responded, "that's the goal."[56]

Artemis program

Bridenstine played a huge role in implementing President Trump's Space Policy Directive One and developed the planned architecture for a return to the Moon. Bridenstine later named the program the Artemis program. Bridenstine also decided that the lunar lander for the Artemis program would be developed commercially similar to the model used for NASA's Commercial Crew Program.[57]

Political positions

While in Congress, Bridenstine was a member of the House Freedom Caucus.[34]

Space

Bridenstine focused heavily on space policy during his tenure in Congress, stating "[o]ur very way of life depends on space, the way we communicate, the way we navigate, the way we produce food and energy, the way we conduct banking."[58] In April 2016 at the 32nd Annual Space Symposium, Bridenstine introduced H.R. 4945, the American Space Renaissance Act, comprehensive reform legislation with provisions affecting national security, civil, and commercial space policy.[59]

In addition, Bridenstine proposed legislation related to the regulatory process overseeing certain non-traditional space activities,[60] and helped secure funding for the Federal Aviation Administration's Office of Commercial Space Transportation.[60][61] Recognizing his efforts, in 2015 SpaceNews named Bridenstine as one of five game changers in the world in space.[61]

Environment and climate

Before becoming the chief administrator of NASA, Bridenstine rejected the scientific consensus behind global climate change[41][43][47] and in a 2013 speech on the House floor stated that global temperatures stopped rising ten years earlier.[47] Bridenstine criticized the Obama administration for spending "30 times as much money" on climate science as on weather forecasting. PolitiFact says of this claim that "Bridenstine does have a point that climate change research exceeds weather forecasting expenditures, but he’s overstated the discrepancy," and they rate the assertion as "mostly false".[62]

In the 114th Congress, Bridenstine was the Chairman of the Environment Subcommittee of the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee.[63] In that role, he pushed the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration "... to integrate commercial data into its weather forecasting models."[61] In September 2016, NOAA awarded two contracts to private weather satellite firms to provide data for its use.[64]

In 2017, Bridenstine supported James Langevin's legislation requiring the Defense Department to report on the effects of climate change on military installations and strategic battle plans.[65] According to journalist Keith Cowing, Bridenstine's support for the Langevin amendment "was widely seen as being instrumental in its passage."[66]

By May 2018, Bridenstine had reversed his public position on climate change. At a town hall meeting in Washington D.C., Bridenstine said that "I fully believe and know that the climate is changing. I also know that we humans beings are contributing to it in a major way. Carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas. We're putting it into the atmosphere in volumes that we haven't seen, and that greenhouse gas is warming the planet. That is absolutely happening, and we are responsible for it."[67]

Personal life

On November 6, 2004, in Fort Worth, Texas, Bridenstine married the former Michelle Deanne Ivory.[8]

References

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External links

U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by
John Sullivan
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Oklahoma's 1st congressional district

2013–2018
Succeeded by
Kevin Hern
Government offices
Preceded by
Charles Bolden
Administrator of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration
2018–present
Incumbent
This page was last edited on 23 November 2020, at 07:58
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