NASA chief shakes up moon program management

NASA chief shakes up moon program management

Bridenstine thanked Gerstenmaier, who began directing NASA's human spaceflight program in 2005, for his service, saying "he has provided the strategic vision for some of NASA's most important efforts, including the International Space Station, Commercial Crew Program, the lunar Gateway, Space Launch System rocket and Orion spacecraft".

"In an effort to meet this challenge, I have decided to make leadership changes to the Human Exploration and Operations (HEO) Mission Directorate".

Bridenstine said the move is meant to help meet the challenge of landing humans on the moon by 2024, a deadline set by the Trump administration.

The widely-respected Gerstenmaier is a NASA veteran who joined the agency in 1977, rising to become one of its top managers, overseeing the space shuttle program and U.S. operations on the International Space Station before becoming head of HEO.

Gertenmaier was reassigned as a special assistant to Bridenstine's deputy, Jim Morhard.

Ken Bowersox, a former NASA astronaut and agency official, will take Gerstenmaier's place as the head of human exploration.

Gerstenmaier started out as an engineer and eventually became the associate administrator for human exploration and operations in 2004.

The Democratic chairwoman of the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology said she was "baffled" by Bridenstine's decision to demote Gerstenmaier without a permanent replacement to fill the role.

The high-profile executive changes at NASA came at a time when the space agency is working on the new moonshot program named Artemis.

The NASA videotape recordings of the first trip to the moon are expected to reach up to €1.7 million. But Vice President Mike Pence, who announced the accelerated 2024 target in March, has criticized NASA for "bureaucratic inertia" and asked for a new mindset.

Bridenstine told CNN Business in June that NASA will need an estimated $20 billion to $30 billion over the next five years for its moon project Artemis.

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