Nasa splits human spaceflight unit in two, reflecting new orbital economy


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.
The reorganization, announced by Nasa chief Bill Nelson on Tuesday, reflects an evolving relationship between private companies, such as SpaceX, that have increasingly commercialized rocket travel and the federal agency that had exercised a U.S. monopoly over spaceflight for decades.
Nelson said the shake-up was also spurred by a recent proliferation of flights and commercial investment in low-Earth orbit even as Nasa steps up its development of deep-space aspirations.
“Today is more than organizational 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.”
The move breaks up Nasa’s Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate, currently headed by Kathy Leuders, into two separate branches.
Leuders will keep her associate administrator title as head of the new Exploration Systems Development Mission Directorate, focusing 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.
A retired deputy associate administrator, James Free, who played key roles in Nasa’s space station and commercial crew and cargo programs, will return to the agency as head of the new Space Operations Mission Directorate.
His branch will primarily oversee more routine launch and spaceflight activities, including missions involving the space station and privatization of low-Earth orbit, as well as sustaining lunar operations once those have been established.
“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.
The announcement came less than a week after SpaceX, which had already flown numerous astronaut missions and cargo payloads to the space station for Nasa, launched the first all-civilian crew ever to reach orbit and returned them safely to Earth.
No Comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Big new Covid wave unlikely but too early to say India in endemic stage: Scientists

NEW DELHI: India is unlikely to see a Covid wave like the devastating second one unless there is a new immune escaping variant but the lower number of cases does not necessarily mean the pandemic is now endemic, several experts have said. Giving hope and also injecting a note of …

New study finds no risk of pregnancy loss from Covid-19 vaccination

OTTAWA: A new study has found no correlation between Covid-19 vaccinations and risk of first-trimester miscarriages, providing further evidence of the safety of Covid-19 vaccination during pregnancy. The study was published in The New England Journal of Medicine. The findings analyzed several national health registries in Norway to compare the …

Cat bacteria treats mouse skin infection, scientists find

WASHINGTON: Researchers at the University of California San Diego School of Medicine used bacteria found on healthy cats to successfully treat a skin infection on mice. These bacteria may serve as the basis for new therapeutics against severe skin infections in humans, dogs, and cats. The study, published in the …