Vice President Mike Pence urged NASA to send the first woman and the next man on the moon by 2024, and as fast as possible on Mars. In a statement this evening, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said it is time for new leadership. With these two changes, NASA gave up on the two of the most important people in command of human in space mission.
Therefore, William Gerstenmaier is not Associate Administrator anymore.
"In an effort to meet this challenge, I have decided to make leadership changes to the Human Exploration and Operations (HEO) Mission Directorate".
The move comes as the White House has shown frustration with the pace of getting to the moon, and some of the problems that have plagued NASA's marquee efforts, including the massive rocket it's building, known as the Space Launch System, which is years behind schedule and way over budget.
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. "If NASA is not now capable of landing American astronauts on the Moon in five years, we need to change the organization, not the mission".
Bill Hill, associate administrator for Exploration Systems Development within HEO additionally has been changed. Ken Bowersox, a former NASA astronaut and agency official, will take Gerstenmaier's place as the head of human exploration. He was there supervising the operations on the International Space Station. He was hired after Pence's remarks to lead the agency's structure changes.
Gerstenmaier appeared to favor test firing the mammoth rocket's first stage, powered by four upgraded space shuttle main engines, at NASA's Stennis Space Center in MS next year to make sure the booster met its design specifications.
"NASA's Artemis program will build a sustainable, open architecture that returns humanity to our nearest neighbor".
"We, as a nation, are thankful for his service in advancing America's priorities and expanding the limits of science, technology, and exploration", wrote Bridenstine in the memo. We are designing an open, durable, reusable architecture that will support deep space exploration for decades to come.