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NASA chief plans to step down when Biden becomes president, report says

Jim Bridenstine told Aviation Week that NASA needs a leader 'who has a close relationship with the president of the United States.'

WASHINGTON — Editor's Note: The video above is from Aug. 2019.

NASA chief Jim Bridenstine said he plans to step down from his role, even if President-elect Joe Biden asks him to stay, according to an interview from Aviation Week Network.

“The right question here is ‘What’s in the best interest of NASA as an agency, and what’s in the best interest of America's exploration program?’" Bridenstine told Aviation Week on Saturday after Democrat Joe Biden was projected to become the 46th president of the United States.

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The former Oklahoma congressman was nominated by President Donald Trump as the 13th Administrator of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. He has been in charge of the agency since April 23, 2018, according to NASA's website. He previously served on the Armed Services Committee and the Science, Space and Technology Committee.

He told Aviation Week that NASA needs a leader "who has a close relationship with the president of the United States."

He added, "You need somebody who is trusted by the administration…. including the OMB (Office of Management and Budget), the National Space Council and the National Security Council, and I think that I would not be the right person for that in a new administration."

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During his time at NASA, Bridenstine helped launched the Artemis program. In 2019, the program promised to land the first woman and the next man on the surface of the moon by 2024, according to NASA. Since the program began, the Orion crew capsule and the Space Launch System were built.

He also worked to established the Commercial Lunar Payload Services Program to partner with private enterprise in landing rovers on the lunar surface, NASA said. These rovers will contain tools and science experiments in preparation for the arrival of American astronauts. 

Bridenstine, 45, told Aviation Week that he doesn't have any specific plans once he leaves NASA expect that he plans to return back to Oklahoma.