Major shuffle at NASA in rush to meet Trump’s moon deadline

Apollo 11 crew member Buzz Aldrin salutes the U.S. flag. Image courtesy of NASA History Office and the NASA JSC Media Services Center

In a major shakeup at NASA Headquarters, agency Administrator Jim Bridenstine said Wednesday that Bill Gerstenmaier, the widely respected director of human spaceflight, has been replaced in the midst of an ambitious push to meet the Trump administration's directive to send astronauts back to the moon within five years.

The Washington Post writes the developments come as Vice President Mike Pence and other White House officials reportedly met with Bridenstine recently to voice their frustration over the agency's slow progress on tackling challenging new mission deadlines.

NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine said there was nothing wrong with what Gerstenmaier was doing.

It also plans to do the same thing with Neil Armstrong's spacesuit in order to let the user examine what astronauts wore on the surface of the Moon.

In June Bridenstine told CNN Business NASA will need an estimated $20 billion to $30 billion besides NASA's current budget over the next five years for its Artemis moon project. "Removing experienced engineering leadership from that effort and the rest of the nation's human spaceflight programs at such a crucial point in time seems misguided at best". "I know she cares deeply about the safety of our astronauts".

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UM professors Fred Adams will present his research findings in theoretical cosmology and astrophysics along with UM aerospace engineering associate professor James Cutler, who is the director of the MI eXploration Lab.

NASA has shaken up it leadership ranks as the Trump administration pushes the agency to return to the moon.

Wednesday's shakeups are the latest as NASA aims to transform itself into "a leaner, more accountable and more agile organization", as Pence said in the March speech to the National Space Council.

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

When Apollo 13 launched into the sunny Florida skies atop a Saturn V rocket that Saturday evening, the mission marked NASA's third lunar landing attempt.

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