It came as a surprise a year ago when an Oklahoma Congressman was appointed to lead NASA, but Jim Bridenstine has embraced the challenge of launching a new era of space discovery. In an exclusive interview with the University of Oklahoma’s Gaylord News, Bridenstine reflects on his new role, and Oklahoma’s future in space.
One year ago, Jim Bridenstine left his office on the Hill for the head desk at the nation’s space agency.
“It’s very different,” says Bridenstine. “When you are in the House of Representatives, it’s obviously very political. And it’s very different when you come to the Executive Branch. Especially when you come to an agency like NASA, which has a long history of being apolitical and bipartisan. And so I will tell you- I love it.”
Bridenstine’s nomination shocked some space industry veterans and his knowledge of space exploration was questioned, but the Oklahoman surprised critics with his long time passion for aerospace issues.
“Oklahoma has had some great leaders over time….” says Bridenstine. “Because of their either mentor-ship or inspiration, it encouraged me to get more involved in space– even before I was a member of Congress when I was running the air and space museum.”
The Sooner State’s history with NASA is long, from creating parts for rockets and probes, to Oklahomans who served with distinction in the Astronaut Corps.
“I want to do what I can to make sure that Oklahoma is aware of what their capabilities are, so they can bid on more projects and help us out even more,” says Bridenstine.
So what should we expect from the agency in the coming years?
“We are going to go to the moon, sustainably,” says Bridenstine. “We are going to utilize the resources of the moon. We are going to retire the risk, improve the technology, and we are going to use those technologies as a proving ground for an eventual mission to Mars.”
A NASA with new, lofty ambitions is counting on Bridenstine to lead them off the launch pad. So far, under the Oklahoman’s leadership, all systems are go. To hear more of the exclusive interview with NASA’s Jim Bridenstine, follow Gaylord News on Twitter and keep up online for more content.