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From Global Warming to Real Science: New Leadership at NASA Can Restore Its Purpose

Last week, after being nominated by President Donald J. Trump over seven months ago, Rep. Jim Bridenstine (R-OK) finally received confirmation from the United States Senate to lead the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). Bridenstine served on both the House Science, Space and Technology Committee, which authorizes NASA and NOAA activities, and the House Armed Services Committee (HASC), which oversees defense programs.

As a scientist and NASA enthusiast, I have high hopes for this former military pilot and Freedom Caucus member's tenure at the agency. As long as he sticks to the principles he stood up while in Congress, Bridenstine will convert NASA from being a tool to advance the Obama administration’s promotion of social justice and catastrophic man-made warming science into the space exploration agency it was originally created to be.

The birth of NASA occurred in 1958, at the height of the Cold War, soon after the Soviet Union beat out the United States in the space race by launching Sputnik 1, the world’s first satellite. The launch of Sputnik provided the illusion of a looming technology gap in space and high atmosphere science and provided the impetus for the creation of NASA, leading to hugely increased spending and an explosion of research activity in the sector.

John F. Kennedy’s Rice University speech in 1961 set the tone and provided the inspiration for NASA to achieve greatness despite the obstacles.

Over the next 40-plus years, NASA completed enormously complex missions including human spaceflight, robotic missions to the far reaches of our solar system, the launch of remote sensing, and communication satellites. NASA oversaw significant advancements in the science and technology of aeronautics and space exploration science, setting a very high bar for other government scientific entities to emulate. The success of NASA was a testament to American exceptionalism and affirmed its status as the lone world superpower.

Unfortunately for NASA, things changed drastically, and for the worse, with the appointments of left-leaning administrators to head the organization by the newly installed Obama administration in 2009.

These leaders prioritized climate science and Silicon Valley launch experiments over America’s security and national defense.

Early in 2010, Obama cut the legs out from under America’s plans for future space exploration with the cancellation of critical rocket programs including the Constellation program, which was the backbone of planned future journeys to the Moon and Mars. Although Congress rebelled in a bipartisan manner against this by partially restoring some funding, the future of the space exploration program was critically wounded.

At the same time, newly installed NASA Administrator Charles Bolden told the Al-Jazeera network that President Obama had charged him as head of NASA with three things: