In an Earth Day interview with Cheddar at Washington, DC's Union Station, NASA Administrator Bill Nelson said things are a bit easier now.
"As a matter of fact, [Congress] looks at NASA in not only a bipartisan way but a nonpartisan way. We get broad support on Capitol Hill," he explained.
That wasn't always the case.
Before Nelson joined Congress, the conversation over our place in the cosmos was one of heated debate; an amendment that would have killed the construction of the International Space Station lost in the House of Representatives by a single vote in 1993: 216 to 215. Bloated costs, delays, and concerns about the national deficit nearly doomed the space laboratory altogether.
But today, nearly a year since his nomination by President Joe Biden and unanimous Senate confirmation to be the 14th NASA administrator, Nelson seemed as bullish on the missions of NASA and its partners like SpaceX and Axiom as he's ever been. "We're getting the first pictures from the James Webb space telescope this summer, capturing light from 13.5 billion years ago, the formation of the first galaxies. Artemis, the SLS, will launch this summer," he told us enthusiastically regarding the highly-anticipated return to the moon. "[Crew-4] will launch probably next Tuesday morning, early. We have so many things going on, it's one thing after another."
Nelson chuckled as he remembered this last bit: "And we've got that little helicopter on Mars, it's still flying," he said of Ingenuity, which landed on the red planet in February in the Jezero Crater.
As for how the NASA chief gets things done with Congress? "Of course, those are my old buddies. So I love to harass them and somehow they go along."
Nelson also gave updates about a few current projects that the agency is currently involved with. We asked about the return of Axiom Mission 1 (AX-1), the first-ever mission that put private astronauts on board the ISS earlier this month that has faced delays this week for its return to Earth. Nelson folded his hands into prayer and said, "The weather is the only thing now that's holding us up." He expects the crew to splash down this weekend.