NASA kicks off Biden era with Steve Jurczyk, new acting administrator

Jurcyzk, who has a long history with NASA, takes over from former administrator Jim Bridenstine.

Amanda Kooser
Freelance writer Amanda C. Kooser covers gadgets and tech news with a twist for CNET. When not wallowing in weird gear and iPad apps for cats, she can be found tinkering with her 1956 DeSoto.
Amanda Kooser

NASA's Steve Jurczyk steps up to take on the acting administrator role at the start of President Biden's term.


The President Joe Biden era at NASA has begun. After Biden's inauguration on Wednesday, many US government agencies got new leaders, including NASA. Steve Jurczyk is now acting administrator. 

NASA updated Jurczyk's biography on Wednesday to reflect the new position. He takes over for Jim Bridenstine, who narrowly passed a Senate vote in April 2018 to head the agency.

The new chief is a familiar face. Jurcyzk had been the associate administrator of the Space Technology Mission Directorate since June 2015 and then in May 2018 became NASA associate administrator, a role the agency described as its "highest-ranking civil servant." His time with NASA stretches back to when he started as a design, integration and test engineer in 1988.

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Jurcyzk steps in at an interesting moment for NASA. Under the Trump administration, the agency moved up to 2024 its timeline for returning humans back to the moon. That goal could be tough to meet due to rocket development delays, program costs and coronavirus impacts.

The Biden administration could make changes to NASA priorities, though some missions, like the Perseverance Mars rover, are on set schedules. The rover will land on the red planet in February.

Bridenstine had an active social media presence, and it remains to be seen if Jurcyzk will follow that example, or for how long he will be acting administrator. NASA did not immediately respond to a request for comment.