NASA Administrator Nominee Bill Nelson Through The YearsIrene Klotz
Bill Nelson, a fifth-generation Floridian, was a sophomore in college when Mercury 7 astronaut Alan Shepard lifted off from what was then Cape Kennedy on May 5, 1961, for a 15-min. suborbital ride, the first U.S. human spaceflight.
Nelson went on to earn a law degree—his honors thesis was titled “The Impact of Cape Kennedy on Brevard County Politics”—and after service in the U.S. Army, both active duty and in the Reserve during the Vietnam War, he began practicing law in Melbourne, Florida, his hometown.
In 1972, Nelson launched his political career, which ended in 2018 when he lost his bid for a fourth term in the U.S. Senate. An avid proponent of NASA, Nelson requested and was granted the opportunity to join a space shuttle crew, flying with the STS 61-C astronauts in January 1986. On March 19, Nelson, 78, was tapped by the Biden administration to serve as NASA’s next administrator. Here’s a look at the highs and lows of Nelson’s 50-year political career.
Read more about Nelson's nomination: Biden Taps NASA Booster Bill Nelson To Head The U.S. Space Agency