NASA’s acting chief says he’ll retire in April

Robert Lightfoot
Acting NASA administrator Robert Lightfoot, shown here in a 2015 photo, says he’ll retire in April. (NASA / MSFC Photo / Fred Deaton)

Robert Lightfoot, who has been serving as NASA’s acting administrator since the start of the Trump administration, says he’ll be retiring at the end of next month.

His departure after more than a year of caretaker duty could open the power vacuum in space policy even wider — or force a resolution.

President Donald Trump nominated Rep. Jim Bridenstine, R-Okla., to fill NASA’s top post last September, but his nomination has languished because Senate confirmation is in doubt. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., is said to be a key opponent, claiming that Bridenstine would be too much of a political choice for a post that’s not traditionally held by a politician.

For what it’s worth, Rubio was a target of Bridenstine’s criticism during 2016’s presidential primary season.

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By Alan Boyle

Mastermind of Cosmic Log, contributing editor at GeekWire, author of "The Case for Pluto: How a Little Planet Made a Big Difference," president of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing. Check out "About Alan Boyle" for more fun facts.

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