From NBC's Jay Barbree
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla -- One of America's decorated jet fighter pilots who was reared by missionary parents in Africa and spoke Swahili before he did English -- retired Air Force Major General Jonathan Scott Gration reportedly has been asked by President-elect Obama to be the new NASA czar.
General Gration's only NASA experience was working in 1982 as a White House Fellow for NASA's deputy administrator Hans Mark. This lack of experience has brought criticism from some quarters including the chairman of the Senate's Space Science and Tech Subcommittee Bill Nelson.
Nelson, the senior Senator from Florida, flew in space himself and when hearing about Gration's possible appointment said, "I think President Bush made a mistake when he appointed someone without NASA experiece in Sean O'Keefe to head the agency."
Following the loss of the space shuttle Columbia's crew of seven O'Keefe was replaced by current NASA Administrator Michael Griffin.
Griffin, the rocket scientist who drew up the blueprints used by President Ronald Reagan to convince the Soviet Union to tear down the Berlin Wall is hailed by many as an outstanding NASA administrator, and Sen. Nelson, a Democrat, added, "I hope President Obama's pick will have that kind of background."
Sen. Nelson's subcommittee will report to the Senate General Gration's qualfications to be NASA Administrator for Senatorial confirmation.