As NASA scrambles to meet U.S. President Donald Trump's mandate to return humans to the moon by 2024, two longtime heads of NASA's human exploration wing were demoted Wednesday in a slew of administrative shakeups, officials said in an internal memo.
NASA has replaced the head of its human space exploration directorate in a major shake-up, United States media reported on Wednesday, as the agency scrambles to meet President Donald Trump's ambitious deadline to return astronauts to the moon by 2024. Known as "Gerst, " he was working along side Boeing and SpaceX as they developed spacecraft capable of ferrying NASA's astronauts to the International Space Station.
In his memo, Bridenstine said the leadership reshuffle was in line with the ambitious Artemis programme - an effort to send a man and the first-ever woman to the moon within the next five years, and named Kenneth Bowersox, a former NASA astronaut, as the new acting associate administrator.
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In an email to employees obtained by The Washington Post, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said Gerstenmaier would become a special assistant to Jim Morhard, the deputy administrator.
In June Bridenstine told CNN Business NASA will need an estimated $20 billion to $30 billion besides NASA's current budget over the next five years for its Artemis moon project. The mission's objective quickly shifted from exploration to survival.
Bill Hill, a deputy associate administrator under Gerstenmaier, was also moved to a special assistant position under NASA's associate administrator Steve Jurczyk. 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. "We hope this is just the beginning of your space explorations", Google said. "If NASA's not now capable of landing American astronauts on the moon in five years, we need to change the organization, not the mission".