WASHINGTON — NASA Administrator Charles Bolden said April 9 he plans to talk soon with the Republican leadership of the Senate to secure a vote on the long-delayed nomination of the agency’s deputy administrator.

Bolden told members of NASA Advisory Council meeting here that he will seek a meeting next week with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) to ask for a vote to confirm Dava Newman’s nomination to the post.

“I’ve never met Sen. McConnell before, but my hope is to have an opportunity to at least talk to him to see if we can encourage him to at least bring her to a floor vote,” Bolden said when asked by the council about the status of her nomination.

The Obama administration nominated Newman Oct. 16 to the position of NASA deputy administrator, and resubmitted the nomination Jan. 8 after the new Congress convened. The Senate Commerce Committee favorably reported the nomination to the full Senate March 25 on a voice vote, with no discussion.

Bolden said that prior to the committee’s vote, Newman had a number of one-on-one meetings with committee members, none of whom expressed any opposition to her nomination. “All we heard was good news, that she had impressed the members of the committee,” he said.

The Senate has been on recess since March 27, and is scheduled to reconvene April 13. A vote on Newman’s nomination has not yet been formally scheduled.

While it’s not certain when, or even if, Newman will be confirmed, Bolden said she is already getting ready to start the job. “Dava was in here yesterday again, trying to get a head start,” he said. “She’s ready to come. The team is ready to have her come in. We really need the help.”

Newman, a professor of aeronautics and astronautics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, will focus in particular on topics related to science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education, Bolden said. “She’s an incredible educator,” he said. “She’s really going to help is in two critical areas: one is STEM education, and the other is women in STEM.”

Jeff Foust writes about space policy, commercial space, and related topics for SpaceNews. He earned a Ph.D. in planetary sciences from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a bachelor’s degree with honors in geophysics and planetary science...