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NASA's acting chief Robert Lightfoot to retire in April

IANS  |  Washington 

NASA's is set to retire at the end of April, even as US Donald Trump's permanent choice to lead the space agency remains stuck in Congress, the media reported.

Lightfoot, who started in 1989 at the in Huntsville, Alabama, as a test engineer, has been the since the beginning of the in January 2017 for nearly 14 months.

His tenure would have been considerably shorter but the has yet to confirm Trump nominee James Bridenstine, a from Oklahoma, reported.

"I cannot express enough my gratitude to the entire team for the support during my career and especially the last 14 months as your acting administrator," Lightfoot said in a "bittersweet" goodbye note sent to the agency staff on Monday.

"The grit and determination you all demonstrate every day in achieving our missions of discovery and exploration are simply awe inspiring.

"I leave blessed with a career full of memories of stunning missions, cherished friendships, and an incredible hope for what is yet to come," Lightfoot said.

Lightfoot, further said that he plans to work with the "on a smooth transition to the new administrator".

His retiement adds more uncertainty about the agency's leadership.

The nominated Bridenstine to fill NASA's top post in September 2017 and he resubmitted the nomination in January.

In both cases his nomination has been advanced by the Commerce Committee on a strict party-line vote, but Bridenstine lacks the 50 votes needed to be confirmed.

Bridenstine is a who has been endorsed by prominent astronauts such as Apollo 11's Buzz Aldrin.

Strongly opposing Bridenstine, Democratic Party's Florida Senator Bill Nelson, said that he is a divisive figure whose presence could impede the bipartisan support necessary for NASA's long-term agenda to expand space exploration,

On the other hand, Members of the has criticised the for not taking action on Bridenstine's nomination, the report said.



(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Tue, March 13 2018. 11:06 IST