NASA has replaced the head of its human space exploration directorate in a major shake-up, USA media reported Wednesday, as the agency scrambles to meet President Donald Trump's ambitious deadline to return astronauts to the moon by 2024.
NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine said associate administrator Bill Gerstenmaier and deputy associate administrator Bill Hill have been reassigned within the agency. With these two changes, NASA gave up on the two of the most important people in command of human in space mission.
William Gerstenmaier, a NASA veteran, has been demoted. More features such as moon- and space-related tours and quizzes on Google Earth have also been lined up from July 15.
"In an effort to meet this challenge, I have decided to make leadership changes to the Human Exploration and Operations (HEO) Mission Directorate".More news: DeepMind's AI to Take on Human StarCraft II Players on Battle.net
As NASA is facing more and more pressure from the higher-ups in the state to speed up the process of sending humans on the moon, it decided that a few changes in administration might be a good thing to accomplish the objective.
In a March speech, he took aim at NASA's bureaucracy, saying the agency "must transform itself into a leaner, more accountable and more agile organization".
Ken Bowersox, a former astronaut who had served as the deputy associate administrator for the human exploration office, will take over for Gerstenmaier, according to Bridenstine's email. "It is the stated policy of this administration and the United States of America to return American astronauts to the moon within the next five years".
Current plans call for crews to dock with a mini space station - Gateway - in lunar orbit before descending to the surface in a commercially developed lander.More news: Nintendo Introducing Portable "Switch Lite"
The news of Gerstenmaier's demotion came just hours after he testified at a meeting of the House Subcommittee on Space and AeronauticsCommittee on Science, Space, and Technology. "NASA's Artemis program will build a sustainable, open architecture that returns humanity to our nearest neighbor", Gerstenmaier wrote in his witness testimony for the hearing.
In addition, William Hill - a deputy associate administrator under Gerstenmaier - was also moved to a special assistant position under NASA's associate administrator Steve Jurczyk. We are building for the long term, and this time are going to the Moon to stay.
The agency's chief Jim Bridenstine announced the changes in an internal memo to employees, signaling the latest leadership changes.More news: "Miraculous" Escape For Driver As Cactus Crashes Into Car