Robert Lightfoot, NASA's acting administrator who served the space agency since the beginning of the Trump administration has announced on Monday that he will retire from service at the end of April. The decision from the civil servant is expected to put pressure on Donald Trump to find a substitute for Lightfoot who will secure a long-term leadership to the world's most leading space agency.
In a surprising move, Lightfoot announced his retirement in a memo to NASA employees.
"It is with bittersweet feelings that I am announcing I will be retiring from the agency on April 30, 2018. I will work with the White House on a smooth transition to the new administrator. NASA's history has many chapters with each of us having a part. I've written my part and now the pen is in your hands—each one of you," wrote Lightfoot.
Lightfoot became the administrator of NASA when the agency's chief Charlie Bolden left the job after the end of Barrack Obama's administration. The veteran administrator who holds a glorious 29 years in his career was given the leadership of NASA on January 20, 2017.
Interestingly. Trump's pick for the administrator, former Congressman Jim Bridenstine has been rejected by the Senate for more than two times due to his views on climate change. However, the Senate committee confirmed Bridenstine in January, but the full Senate vote still remains on the executive calendar.
It should be noted that several key administrative positions including the position of deputy administrator and the position of the associate administrator are vacant in NASA. However, the space agency has temporarily filled the position of the associate administrator with Steve Jurczyk.
Recently, President Donald Trump reinstated National Space Council with Vice President Mike Pence as the chairman and has given the agency the task to return to the moon once again.