U.S. Senator Bill Nelson

U.S. Senator Bill Nelson

U.S. Senate – Florida

It's no surprise that Bill Nelson has always fought for Florida first. His Florida roots run deep. He's a fifth-generation Floridian whose family home was just a few miles from where he was launched into orbit in 1986 as a crew member of the Space Shuttle Columbia. From his home in Melbourne, Florida in the 1950s and 1960s, he could see missiles and rockets blasting off from what is now the Kennedy Space Center.

In 1965, during the Vietnam War, he joined the U.S. Army Reserve. He served on active duty from 1968 to 1970, attaining the rank of captain, and he remained in the Army until 1971. Nelson was admitted to the Florida bar in 1968, and began practicing law in Melbourne in 1970. In 1971, he worked as legislative assistant to Governor Reubin Askew.

In 1986, Nelson became the second sitting member of Congress (and the first member of the House) to travel into space. He went through NASA training with Senator Jake Garn of Utah. He was a Payload Specialist on Space Shuttle Columbia's STS-61-C mission from January 12 to 18, 1986.

Since coming to the U.S. Senate in 2001, Bill Nelson has fought hard for Florida interests. Whether it's helping to keep Florida bases strong or securing aid for hurricane victims, Bill Nelson has been a leader when it comes to protecting and fighting for the Sunshine State.

From his key position on the Armed Services Committee, Nelson has been instrumental in ensuring that Florida retains its key role as a leading center for military operations. He has also fought at every chance to improve the lot of the state's many veterans.

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