The Atlantic

Who's Running NASA?

An interim administrator has been overseeing the space agency for more than 13 months—and now he’s leaving, too.
Source: NASA / Dimitri Gerondidakis

There was only one witness at a congressional hearing about NASA’s budget last week, and he wasn’t even supposed to be there.

The witness, Robert Lightfoot, has worked at NASA for years. He arrived at the Marshall Spaceflight Center in 1989 as a test engineer. By 2009, he was running the whole place as director, and a few years later, he was number three at NASA headquarters. When President Obama left the White House, taking all his appointees with him, Lightfoot took over as NASA’s acting administrator. He would step down as soon as the Senate confirmed a successor, handpicked by President Trump.

More than 13 months later, that still hasn’t happened. With each passing day, for the longest the agency has gone without a permanent

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