US Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL) gives introductory remarks during an event where President Barack Obama outlined a bold new course the administration is charting to maintain U.S. leadership in human space flight at the NASA Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Fla. on Thursday, April 15, 2010. Photo Credit: (NASA/Bill Ingalls)

WASHINGTON — U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), the chairman of the Senate Commerce science and space subcommittee, was elected to a third term Nov. 6. The one-time spaceflyer’s victory of Republican challenger Connie Mack helped Democrats retain control of the Senate. 

While Democrats picked up at least one seat in the U.S. House of Representatives (12 races are still undecided), Republicans will still hold the majority there when President Barack Obama begins his second four-year term in January.

Among the races Democrats hoped to win to pick up the 25 seats needed to take over the House was former NASA astronaut Jose Hernandez’s bid to unseat incumbent Rep. Jeff Denham (R) in California’s 10th district. Denham won with over 53 percent of the vote.

Nick Lampson, the two-time former congressman who served on the House Science space and aeronautics subcommittee, lost his bid to represent Texas’ 14th district to Republican Randy Weber. Rep. Pete Olson (R-Texas), a pro-NASA member who sent Lampson back to Houston in 2008, won his election in Texas’ 22nd district. 

Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas), Nelson’s frequent ally on NASA matters, did not seek re-election this year. Republican Ted Cruz easily defeated Democrat Paul Sadler, keeping Hutchison’s seat in Republican hands for another six-year term.

Brian Berger is editor in chief of and the SpaceNews magazine. He joined in 1998, spending his first decade with the publication covering NASA. He was named senior staff writer in 2004, a position he held...