Changes Coming to NASA’s Human Spaceflight Program

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A Few Month’s Into the Job, NASA’s Head of the Human Spaceflight Program Looks to Implement Big Changes.

We knew it was coming. Nearly a year ago, when Vice President Mike Pence announced that the Trump administration would cut four years off of the Artemis deadline, NASA went into a scramble. In response, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine relieved William Gerstenmeier of his duties almost immediately. Gerstenmeier served as the head of NASA’s human spaceflight program for decades and earned respect throughout the agency. Bridenstine, however, reckoned that the Artemis team needed a new perspective in order to succeed. 

Since that time, Bridenstine and those around him searched for Gerstenmeir’s replacement. Then, four months ago, they finally settled on Doug Levarro. According to NASA’s director of Space Life and Physical Sciences Research and Applications Division, Craig Kundrot, Levarro’s spent the majority of that time “learning about the organization.” He continued that Levarro is now ready “…to execute changes.” 

What Kind of Changes?

Levarro already made one significant change to the human spaceflight program regarding Artemis. He recently struck the Lunar Gateway project from the “critical path” to land humans on the moon again in just four years. At a virtual conference yesterday, April 1st, Kundrot and Bridenstine discussed some of the other changes to come. During that event, Kundrot announced that his division will move to NASA’s Science Mission Directorate. His division played an integral role in the Human Exploration and Operations (HEO) Mission Directorate for a decade and a half.

Kundrot said, however, that “There’s some important cultural aspects” behind the decision to move his team. Part of that includes tying their research more closely together with other NASA science missions. 

Neither Kundrot nor Bridenstine went into any more specifics regarding the coming changes. They did, however, say that most of the changes would be announced by mid-April. 

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Brandon Humphreys

Brandon Humphreys

I'm a wizard. I write stuff and it goes from my head into yours - Magic! Apart from that, I am the Senior Editor for Space Porn, a veteran, a rock guitarist, and a teacher.

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