As the country turns to new beginnings under a new administration, it's the end of the road for many in the positions that are the pinnacle of years of hard work and dedication.
In North Alabama, one of the most visible members of President Trump's administration was NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine.
In many cases, he was the face of the space agency, and even made a visit to Huntsville in 2019.
In an emotional farewell Wednesday, Bridenstine urged unity as NASA continues on its goal to return to the moon, and travel beyond.
“This was the job of a lifetime,” Bridenstine said. “I don't know how I will ever match it again for all of my years. But I will tell you, the amazing people at NASA, you can't be replaced. You're the best, and I'm just so grateful for all of the great experiences, the hard times, but also the great accomplishments and the things we were able to achieve together"
It has been my great honor to serve as your @NASA Administrator. I will miss the amazing NASA family and will forever be grateful for my time at this incredible agency. Ad astra. pic.twitter.com/Zba4MTawPV
— Jim Bridenstine (@JimBridenstine) January 20, 2021
Bridenstine’s been the head of the agency since 2018, after a controversial start in the role.
A career politician, his Senate confirmation narrowly passed on a party line vote of 50 to 49 after members of both parties called for a nominee with a stronger science background.
Bridenstine has led the agency through a number of new developments, including the launch of the Artemis mission that aims to take Americans back to the moon by 2024.
"It’s about going to the moon to get the science and discovery we need, to learn to live and work on another world for a period of time so we can go to Mars,” Bridenstine said.
In addition to launching the Artemis program and making a trip to Marshall Space Flight Center to announce Huntsville’s role in developing the lunar lander, Bridenstine developed partnerships with private space company Space X and its founder Elon Musk.
That partnership took astronauts to space for the first time on a commercially built and operated rocket. It was the first crewed launch from American soil since 2011.
“When we think about the Artemis program, I think we have brought all of the industry together with government and our international partners to say that look we can go to the moon where everybody benefits, humanity benefits and create a sustainable program for the future," Bridenstine said.
In his final message to the agency, Bridenstine encouraged unity and teamwork as the Biden Administration takes over.
"When a new team comes in, give ‘em all your support because they need it, they deserve it, and what we're trying to do we're not only crossing multiple administrations, but multi-decade, and multi-generational. so, again they'll have all my support and I hope they'll have all your support,” he said.
“Go get ‘em, go NASA, Ad Astra."
President Biden has not announced his nominee to be the next NASA Administrator.