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Senate confirms former astronaut, senator Bill Nelson as NASA chief

The Senate confirmed former Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) as NASA's 14th administrator Thursday night. "I am honored by the president's nomination and the Senate vote," Nelson said. "I will try to merit that trust. Onward and upward!" Before serving in the Senate from 2001 to 2018, Nelson was a congressman, Army Reserve captain, and astronaut.

Nelson, 78, flew into space on the space shuttle Columbia on Jan. 12, 1986, and 10 days after his mission returned, the space shuttle Challenger broke apart just over a minute after liftoff, killing all seven astronauts on board. Nelson's commander on the Challenger, Charles Bolden Jr., served as NASA administrator under former President Barack Obama, and Nelson succeeds former Rep. Jim Bridenstine (R-Okla.), NASA administrator for most of the Trump administration.