On Tuesday, NASA announces the reorganisation of its human spaceflight department. It will divide the department into two separate bodies. Out of which one will focus on big, future-oriented missions to the moon and Mars and another will work on the International Space Station and other operations closer to Earth.
This reorganisation was announced by NASA chief Bill Nelson to reflect an evolving relationship between private companies, such as SpaceX. Private companies working in the space technology field have increasingly commercialised rocket travel and also it depleted the monopoly of U.S federal agencies on space flights.
“Today is more than organisational change,” Nelson said at a press briefing, “It’s setting the stage for the next 20 years, it’s defining NASA’s future in a growing space economy”, as quoted by Reuters.
“This approach with two areas focused on human spaceflight allows one mission directorate to operate in space while the other builds future space systems,” NASA said in a press release announcing the move.
— NASA (@NASA) September 21, 2021
These two separate branches founded on splitting NASA’s Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate is currently headed by Kathy Leuders.
However, Leuders will keep her associate administrator title as head of the new Exploration Systems Development Mission Directorate. It will focus on NASA’s most ambitious, long-term programs, such as plans to return astronauts to the moon under project Artemis, and eventual human exploration of Mars.
And a retired deputy associate administrator, James Free will return to the agency as head of the new Space Operations Mission Directorate. He played important roles in NASA’s space station and commercial crew and cargo programs. His branch will primarily oversee the more routine launch and spaceflight activities which include missions such as involving the space station and privatization of low-Earth orbit and sustaining lunar operations once they are established.