NASA Shake-Up in New Race to the Moon

Katie Ramirez
July 13, 2019

"As you already know, NASA has been given a daring challenge to place the first lady and the next guy on the Moon by 2024, with a deal with the last word goal of sending people to Mars", Bridenstine wrote.

NASA has replaced the head of its human space exploration directorate in a major shake-up, U.S. media reported on Wednesday, as the agency scrambles to meet President Donald Trump's ambitious deadline to return astronauts to the moon by 2024.

"I sometimes think the three of us missed "the big event".

The high-profile executive changes at NASA come at a time when the agency is working on its new moonshot program named Artemis. The move signifies something of a demotion for Gerstenmaier at the agency.

NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine said there was nothing wrong with what Gerstenmaier was doing. Mark Sirangelo, who was recently hired to helm a new "Moon to Mars" directorate at NASA, resigned after just one month of working at the agency, and NASA chose to scrap plans for the new division altogether.

"The Trump Administration's ill-defined crash program to land astronauts on the Moon in 2024 was going to be challenging enough to achieve under the best of circumstances", Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson of Texas said in a statement.

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Rep. Kendra Horn of Oklahoma, chairwoman of the House subcommittee on Space and Aeronautics, also said she was "concerned about the impacts that such abrupt leadership changes in our nation's human space flight programs could have" at a time when they're testing the Space Launch System and Orion spacecraft that will help the crew get to the moon.

Earlier this year, Vice President Mike Pence announced NASA was being directed to accelerate plans to return astronauts to the moon, moving the agency's target date from 2028 to 2024.

Wednesday's shakeups are the latest as NASA aims to transform itself into "a leaner, more accountable and more agile organization", as Pence said in the March speech to the National Space Council.

The new timeline gives NASA only five years to assemble the hardware and funds it requires.

As the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing approaches, items from the historic landing will sell at auction.

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