Bill Nelson, the Biden administration’s nominee for NASA administrator, testifies at his April 21 Senate confirmation hearing. Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls

WASHINGTON — Bill Nelson is one step closer to being NASA’s next administrator after his former colleagues on the Senate Commerce Committee voted to advance his nomination.

The committee, meeting in executive session April 28, favorably reported his nomination on a voice vote and without debate. The nomination was part of a session that included consideration of more than a dozen other unrelated bills and nominations.

The committee’s approval was expected after Nelson breezed through a confirmation hearing one week earlier. At that hearing, members praised Nelson for his expertise on space issues. No members of the committee expressed any reservations about Nelson leading the space agency.

“We were really excited that Bill Nelson was nominated for head of NASA,” Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), who chaired the executive session, said in her opening remarks. “I think you all know Sen. Nelson and how much we respect him, and how excited he is. You could just feel it as he talked about Mars.”

The committee’s ranking member, Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), also expressed his support for Nelson’s nomination, saying he was “well-suited and should gain consensus support.”

The nomination now goes to the full Senate for a confirmation vote. That vote is not scheduled but is expected in the next few weeks. The Senate will be on recess the week of May 3.

“We’re excited to have Sen. Nelson’s nomination moving forward and having Sen. Nelson hopefully confirmed in the not-too-distant future,” Steve Jurczyk, NASA’s acting administrator, said during an April 27 Space Transportation Association webinar.

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...