NASA Watch, a news site focused on the space agency, and Arstechnica, a tech/science news site, are both reporting that Oklahoma Congressman Jim Bridenstine will likely be announced in the coming weeks as the Trump administration's pick for NASA Administrator.
The Deputy #NASA Admin position was decided a month ago. Administrator was decided upon a week or so later. Formal announcement in Sept— NASA Watch (@NASAWatch) August 15, 2017
Oh yes Jim Bridenstine = #NASA Administrator and John Schumacher = Deputy Administrator— NASA Watch (@NASAWatch) August 15, 2017
The exact date and venue for the formal announcement of these NASA leadership nominations has not been set. NASA HQ has liked to do events with a lot of pomp and flair so we'll see what they do for this announcement. Sources have told me that a post-Labor Day announcement was being planned but it may be moved up now. Or maybe it won't.
Looking at where NASA is - and where the Trump folks seem to want it to go - a pairing of Jim Bridenstine with John Schumacher make a lot of sense. Bridenstine's views seem to resonate well with a lot of what seems to be buzzing around inside the heads of TrumpSpace people. Schumacher has a long resume in senior positions at both NASA - so he'll give Bridenstine a lot of managerial support. Bridenstine has a lot of interest in emerging space commerce opportunities while Schumacher has a solid aerospace background - another way that their skillsets complement one another.
John Logsdon, a noted space historian and author of several books, including After Apollo? Richard Nixon and the American Space Program, said he has been hearing the same names. "Appointing [US Representative] Jim Bridenstine and [Aerojet Rocketdyne Vice President] John Schumacher as the top two NASA officials is an intriguing and potentially very productive move," Logsdon told Ars, via e-mail. "Bridenstine, for several years, has been conceptualizing what is needed for, as he suggests, an 'American Space Renaissance' and has been testing his ideas with multiple audiences. Schumacher is a Washington space community veteran, with years of both senior NASA and space industry executive experience. Together, they can bring both fresh ideas and a sense of political and policy realism to the space agency."The Arstechnia article goes into more interesting details about both men as it relates to potential space policy, as well as implications of the picks. Read more here.
A Bridenstine appointment would mean a special election in the 1st District, which already has at least five candidates vying for the seat, which Bridenstine was vacating to his self-imposed term limit (you know, actually keeping his word, unlike another Oklahoma congressman). A special election would likely take place at the end of this year or beginning of next year, leaving the eventual victor a mere three or four months before turning around to run for the full term.