Ready for Launch: NASA Chief and Deputy Confirmed by Senate

The U.S. space agency has a leader to celebrate today’s 40th anniversary of the first human mission to the moon. The Senate yesterday confirmed Charles Bolden as NASA administrator and Lori Garver as his deputy following a brief confirmation hearing last week. The post had been vacant since Michael Griffin left the job in January.

“General Bolden takes over NASA at a critical time,” said Senator Bill Nelson (D–Fl), who pushed the White House to nominate the former astronaut and Marine Corps general. He added, in a comment clearly aimed at the White House, that “NASA is adrift and needs a leader.”

Bolden, who faced no opposition from senators, is unlikely to make any big decisions until at least next month, when a blue-ribbon panel led by former aerospace manager Norman Augustine will report on what options NASA has in moving forward with a human space program. But he will face a challenging budget fight on Capitol Hill, where the House of Representatives recently cut funding for a launcher that is to replace the shuttle.