Wednesday, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine announced the appointment of Huntsville’s Mark McDaniel to the Human Exploration and Operations Committee of the NASA Advisory Council (“NAC”).
McDaniel was recommended to Bridenstine by Congressman Mo Brooks (R-Huntsville). Brooks said in a statement that NASA Administrator Bridenstine is a personal friend and former House colleague.
Congressman Brooks recommended McDaniel to be a part of NASA’s highest civilian advisory board, citing Mr. McDaniel’s past record of exemplary service on the NASA Advisory Council.
“Mark McDaniel’s experience and qualifications make him an excellent choice to advise NASA on its future missions,” Rep. Brooks said. “I congratulate Mark on his appointment and have confidence he will be a productive and constructive member of the committee.”
“I greatly appreciate my friend NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine for his thoughtful consideration in appointing Mark McDaniel,” Rep. Brooks continued. “Jim’s leadership at NASA has been exemplary, and I am glad he took time out of his busy schedule to announce Mark McDaniel’s appointment in Huntsville.”
Mr. McDaniel said, “It is a great honor for Congressman Brooks to have recommended me for the Human Exploration and Operations
Committee of the NASA Advisory Council, and I look forward to serving NASA in this important position. I have been friends with Mo for many years, and I have always admired him for his integrity and courage, and especially for what he does for NASA and national defense.”
Administrator Bridenstine tweeted that McDaniel’s, “Legal and space experience will serve our agency well.”
Previously, NASA Administrator Daniel Goldin appointed Mr. McDaniel to the NASA Advisory Council in October 2000 and NASA Administrator Sean O’Keefe reappointed Mr. McDaniel to the Council in November 2002 and November 2004. During Mr. McDaniel’s tenure on the NAC, President George W. Bush announced the Moon, Mars, and Beyond Initiative which set the Nation on a more aggressive pace for Space Exploration.
On January 26, 2007, Mr. McDaniel received the NASA Public Service Medal for his “Leadership and Council to America’s Space Agency, his advocacy of Human Space Flight and Exploration and dedication to the Aerospace Community at large.”
Since the space shuttle fleet was retired by President Barack H. Obama (D), U.S. human space exploration has been limited to trips to the International Space Station on Russian rockets.
NASA is hopeful that will change soon with the Space Launch System (SLS) launching the Orion modules further into space than we have ever humans before with a manned mission to Mars presently scheduled for sometime in the mid 2030s. In 2016 Lockheed Martin made a proposal for a manned mission to orbit Mars as early as 2028. The first serious technical plans for a manned Mars mission was written by Wernher Von Braun in 1952 his book Das Marsprojekt.
Congressman Mo Brooks has been a staunch supporter of human space exploration. Huntsville is home to the U.S. Army’s Redstone Arsenal and NASA’s Marshall Spaceflight Center. Brooks represents Alabama’s Fifth Congressional District.