Long-serving Nasa boss demoted as Trump grows impatient over moon mission

Long-serving Nasa boss demoted as Trump grows impatient over moon mission

NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine informed agency employees in a memo Wednesday night that NASA veteran Bill Gerstenmaier would no longer be leading the Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate.

Bill Hill, deputy associate administrator for Exploration Systems Development within HEO also has been replaced.

Gerstenmaier was ousted from his role hours after he testified before Congress on the future of the International Space Station and plans for low-Earth orbit.

"As you know, NASA has been given a bold challenge to put the first woman and the next man on the moon by 2024, with a focus on the ultimate goal of sending humans to Mars", Bridenstine wrote.

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.

The program is expected to cost billions more in the next few years as NASA rushes to meet the 2024 target date. He was hired after Pence's remarks to lead the agency's structure changes.

Bridenstine told the Post in an interview Thursday that he thinks "very highly" of Gerstenmaier and denied there was tension between them. "Given NASA is no longer pursuing the new mission directorate, Mark has opted to pursue other opportunities", Bridenstine said in a memo to employees at the time.

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On April 11, 1970, NASA astronaut Fred Haise was preparing to follow in the footsteps of Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin and walk on the surface of the Moon.

Johnson said that amid the challenges that come with the moonshot project, removing experienced leaders at NASA appears to be an ill-guided decision. The White House recently requested an additional $1.6 billion for NASA to help jumpstart the Artemis program next year, on top of the $21 billion the administration already requested for the agency.

"What we need now is urgency", Pence said during a speech to a crowd at the US Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama.

The new timeline gives NASA only five years to acquire the hardware and funds it needs.

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

The Artemis mission could send people to the lunar surface for the first time in half a century.