NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine gave an emotional farewell speech in which he thanked the NASA workforce and space industry, but called for unity moving forward.
“The amazing people at NASA, you can’t be replaced. You’re the best, and I’m … I’m just so grateful for all of the great experiences, the hard times but also the great accomplishments and the things that we were able to achieve together,” he said in the video posted to NASA’s Twitter account.
Bridenstine, a former Oklahoma congressman who had a contentious confirmation to the NASA position when nominated in 2017 by President Donald Trump, became the 13th administrator for the space agency in April 2018. He had said he would step down on Jan. 20 to make way for a new administrator as President Joe Biden took office.
“So with that I say farewell, and I’ll tell you when a new team comes in, give them all your support because they need it. They deserve it. And of course what we’re trying to do again, we’re not only crossing multiple administrations, but multidecade and multigenerational. So again they’ll have all my support and I hope they have all your support. So go get’em. Go NASA. Ad astra.”
He called for a bipartisan approach to national space efforts, but also encouraged a continued international and commercial partnerships for the benefit of humanity.
“You know I think it’s really important as we move forward as an agency that we think about what enables success,” he said. “And I’ll tell you what we’ve been working on since I’ve been working here is eliminating divisions. And if we eliminate divisions and we can get the bipartisan, apolitical consensus with commercial partners and international partners, I think it sets us up in a great position to move forward in a meaningful way.”
He put emphasis on the Trump administration’s push with the Artemis program, which is still slated to launch what would be the biggest rocket ever to leave Earth on an uncrewed mission this November. The administration had been pushing to land back on the moon by 2024, and this time with the first woman to set foot on its surface.
“This was a job of a lifetime. I don’t know how I will match it again for all of my years,” he said.
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