CNBCreports that SpaceX has hired William Gerstenmaier, who formerly headed NASA’s human spaceflight program, to serve as a consultant for the company’s reliability engineering team.
The move comes as SpaceX prepares to fly its first Crew Dragon mission with astronauts later this year. The flight test is currently scheduled for the second quarter.
The crew plans to dock with the International Space Station (ISS). A successful flight would clear the way for certification of the vehicle to fly crews to ISS on a commercial basis.
Gerstenmaier was demoted from his position as NASA associate administrator for human exploration and operations last July over continued delays with the Space Launch System and Orion programs. He had served in that position for 14 years.
Gerstenmaier’s reassignment as a special adviser to Deputy Administrator Jim Morhard was his first step out the door. He left NASA in December after 42 years with the space agency.
WASHINGTON, DC (NASA PR) — Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has announced his nation’s intention to join the United States’ Moon to Mars exploration approach, including NASA’s Artemis lunar program.
The announcement took place at a ceremony Saturday at NASA Headquarters in Washington during which NASA Deputy Administrator, Jim Morhard, and Head of the Australian Space Agency, Megan Clark, signed a joint statement of intent. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross, Australian Ambassador to the United States Joe Hockey and U.S. Ambassador to Australia Arthur Culvahouse Jr. also participated in the ceremony.
WASHINGTON (House Science Committee PR) – Yesterday, National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) leadership reassigned Mr. William H. Gerstenmaier from his post as Associate Administrator of the Human Exploration and Operations (HEO) Mission Directorate. He will now serve as special assistant to NASA’s Deputy Administrator Jim Morhard. Mr. William Hill, who served with Gerstenmaier as Deputy Associate Administrator of HEO, was also reassigned to now serve as a special advisor to NASA’s Associate Administrator, Steve Jurczyk.
“I am baffled by the NASA Administrator’s decision to abruptly remove the highly respected heads of NASA’s human spaceflight directorate and its Exploration Systems Development office with no permanent successors identified,” said Chairwoman Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX). “The Trump Administration’s ill-defined crash program to land astronauts on the Moon in 2024 was going to be challenging enough to achieve under the best of circumstances. 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. The Administrator needs to explain this personnel action, as well as provide an executable program plan accompanied by a credible budget if Congress is to have any basis for supporting the President’s Moon initiative.”
“As the head of NASA’s human exploration program, William Gerstenmaier has a long, successful track record of shepherding people safely into space,” said Chairwoman Kendra Horn (D-OK) of the Subcommittee on Space and Aeronautics. “He had just testified on the future of the International Space Station before the Subcommittee that I chair the morning of the announcement. The Subcommittee found his testimony very important given his technical insight and his depth of NASA experience.
“I was surprised about the Administrator’s announcement. I look forward to speaking further with the Administrator about his decision.
“I am concerned about the impacts that such abrupt leadership changes in our nation’s human space flight programs could have at a time when we are at the threshold of testing the integrated Space Launch System and Orion crew vehicle that will take humans into deep space and the commercial space flight systems that will take our astronauts to the International Space Station.”
The Senate has confirmed James Morhard as NASA deputy administrator on Friday. Morhard had been serving as the Senate deputy sergeant at arms.
NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine issued the following statement about the confirmation:
“Congratulations to Jim Morhard! He was confirmed as the 14th Deputy Administrator of NASA on Thursday, Oct. 11.
“He joins our amazing agency at a crucial time in history. NASA is celebrating its 60th anniversary this year, and I look forward to working with him as we look towards NASA’s next 60 years. His legislative and managerial talents will serve NASA well as we accomplish stunning achievements.”
The Senate Commerce Committee on Wednesday approved the nominations of Jim Morhard to be deputy administrator of NASA and Kelvin Droegemeier to head up the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP).
The voice votes were conducted with no dissents. The nominations now go to the full Senate for a vote.
Morhard, 62, currently serves as the Senate deputy sergeant at arms.
Droegemeier, 60, is a respected meteorologist who is vice president for research at the University of Oklahoma.