NASA splits human spaceflight unit in two, reflecting new orbital economy By Reuters
By Steve Gorman
(Reuters) – NASA is splitting its human spaceflight department into two separate bodies – one centered on big, future-oriented missions to the moon and Mars, the other on the International Space Station and other operations closer to Earth.
NASA chief Bill Nelson announced Tuesday that the organization was being reorganized to reflect an evolving relationship between SpaceX and NASA, which has commercialized rocket travel more than any other company. This is in contrast with NASA’s decades-old spaceflight monopoly.
Nelson stated that the recent increase in flights and investment by commercial companies in low-Earth orbit, as well as NASA’s development of deep space aspirations was also a factor driving this shake-up.
Nelson spoke at a press conference, “Today’s more than an organizational change.” At a press briefing, Nelson stated that the move is setting the tone for NASA’s future.
NASA’s Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate is now split into two distinct branches.
Leuders will retain her title of assistant administrator as she heads the Exploration Systems Development Mission Directorate. She will focus on NASA’s most important, long-term projects, including plans for returning astronauts to Mars under Project Artemis.
James Free (retired deputy administrator) will head the Space Operations Mission Directorate. He played key roles with NASA’s cargo and crew programs as well as its space station.
This branch will oversee routine launches and spaceflight operations, such as missions that involve the privatization of low Earth orbit and the creation of a space station. It also helps to sustain lunar operations.
NASA announced the change in a press release. “This two-area approach allows one mission directorate, which is focused on human spaceflight,” NASA stated.
This announcement was made less than one week after SpaceX had launched numerous missions to orbit with cargo payloads and astronauts, and the company returned the crew safely back to Earth.
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