Administrator of NASA
|Administrator of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration|
|Nominator||President with Senate advice and consent|
|Term length||At the pleasure of the President|
|Constituting instrument||51 U.S.C. § 20111|
|Inaugural holder||Thomas Keith Glennan|
|Salary||$203,700 annually |
(Executive Schedule II)
|Website||Bill Nelson, NASA|
The Administrator of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration is the highest-ranking official of NASA, the national space agency of the United States. The administrator is NASA's chief decision maker, responsible for providing clarity to the agency's vision and serving as a source of internal leadership within NASA. The office holder also has an important place within United States space policy, and is assisted by a deputy administrator.
The administrator is appointed by the president of the United States, with the advice and consent of the United States Senate, and thereafter serves at the president’s pleasure. Former senator and astronaut Bill Nelson has served as the administrator since May 3, 2021.
Duties and responsibilities
The administrator serves as NASA's chief executive officer, accountable to the President for the leadership necessary to achieve the agency's mission. This leadership requires articulating the agency's vision, setting its programmatic and budget priorities and internal policies, and assessing Agency performance.
The first administrator of NASA was Dr. T. Keith Glennan; during his term he brought together the disparate projects in space development research in the US. Daniel Goldin held the post for the longest term (nearly 10 years), and is best known for pioneering the "faster, better, cheaper" approach to space programs. The only person to hold the post twice is James C. Fletcher, who returned to NASA following the Challenger disaster.
The current administrator is former senator and astronaut Bill Nelson, who was nominated by President Joe Biden on March 19, 2021, confirmed by the Senate on April 29, and officially sworn in on May 3.
List of administrators
|No.||Portrait||Name||Took office||Left office||Days served||President|
|1||T. Keith Glennan||August 19, 1958||January 20, 1961||885||Dwight D. Eisenhower|
|Hugh Dryden||January 21, 1961||February 14, 1961||24||John F. Kennedy|
|2||James E. Webb||February 14, 1961||October 7, 1968||1035|
|Lyndon B. Johnson|
|3||Thomas O. Paine||October 8, 1968||March 21, 1969||104|
|March 21, 1969||September 15, 1970||543|
|-||George Low||September 16, 1970||April 26, 1971||222|
|4||James C. Fletcher||April 27, 1971||May 1, 1977||1200|
|-||Alan M. Lovelace||May 2, 1977||June 20, 1977||49|
|5||Robert A. Frosch||June 21, 1977||January 20, 1981||1309|
|-||Alan M. Lovelace||January 21, 1981||July 10, 1981||171
|6||James M. Beggs||July 10, 1981||December 4, 1985||1608|
|-||William Graham||December 4, 1985||May 11, 1986||158|
|7||James C. Fletcher||May 12, 1986||April 8, 1989||984|
|George H. W. Bush|
|-||Dale D. Myers||April 8, 1989||May 13, 1989||35|
|8||Richard H. Truly||May 14, 1989||June 30, 1989||47|
|July 1, 1989||March 31, 1992||1004|
|9||Daniel Goldin||April 1, 1992||November 17, 2001||294|
|George W. Bush|
|-||Daniel Mulville||November 19, 2001||December 21, 2001||32|
|10||Sean O'Keefe||December 21, 2001||February 11, 2005||1148|
|-||Frederick D. Gregory||February 11, 2005||April 14, 2005||62|
|11||Michael D. Griffin||April 14, 2005||January 20, 2009||1377|
|-||Christopher Scolese||January 20, 2009||July 17, 2009||178||Barack Obama|
|12||Charles Bolden||July 17, 2009||January 20, 2017||2744|
|-||Robert M. Lightfoot Jr.||January 20, 2017||April 23, 2018||458||Donald Trump|
|13||Jim Bridenstine||April 23, 2018||January 20, 2021||1003|
|-||Steve Jurczyk||January 20, 2021||May 3, 2021||103||Joe Biden|
|14||Bill Nelson||May 3, 2021||Incumbent||581|
Line of succession
The line of succession for the administrator of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration is as follows:
- Deputy administrator of NASA
- Associate administrator of NASA
– Deputy associate administrator of NASA (if applicable)
- Chief of staff to the NASA administrator
- Director of Johnson Space Center (Houston, Texas)
- Director of Kennedy Space Center (Merritt Island, Florida)
- Director of Marshall Space Flight Center (Redstone Arsenal, Alabama)
In the event of there being no deputy administrator of NASA, and the associate administrator serving as acting administrator, then the deputy associate administrator assumes the role of acting deputy administrator.
- NASA Strategic Management Handbook
- "Chapter 2-Roles and Responsibilities".
- "T. Keith Glennan biography". NASA. August 4, 2006. Archived from the original on July 8, 2008. Retrieved July 5, 2008.
- "Daniel S. Goldin biography". NASA. March 12, 2004. Archived from the original on June 15, 2008. Retrieved July 5, 2008.
- "James C. Fletcher biography". NASA. Archived from the original on July 6, 2008. Retrieved July 5, 2008.
- "President Biden Announces his Intent to Nominate Bill Nelson for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration". The White House. March 19, 2021. Retrieved March 19, 2021.
- "List of Administrators and Deputy Administrators of NASA". NASA. Archived from the original on May 21, 2008. Retrieved July 4, 2008.
- "Designation of Officers of the National Aeronautics And Space Administration To Act as Administrator". Federal Register. January 22, 2009. Retrieved October 30, 2016.