NASA splits its human spaceflight unit into two

Washington, Sep 22 (IANS): The Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate (HEOMD) at NASA will be split into two new entities to best position the agency for the next 20 years, Administrator Bill Nelson has announced.

Of the two units, the Exploration Systems Development Mission Directorate (ESDMD) will develop systems for exploring the Moon and Mars, and the Space Operations Mission Directorate (SOMD) will focus on space operations.

NASA is making the changes because of increasing space operations in low-Earth orbit and development programmes well underway for deep space exploration, including Artemis missions, the US space agency said in a statement.

"This reorganisation positions NASA and the United States for success as we venture farther out into the cosmos than ever before, all while supporting the continued commercialisation of space and research on the International Space Station," said Nelson, in the statement.

Jim Free will head ESDMD as Associate Administrator, while Kathy Lueders will serve as Associate Administrator of SOMD.

"Working hand-in-hand with our colleagues in Space Operations, we will focus on ensuring the success of Artemis missions in the near term while charting a clearly defined path for human exploration of Mars as our horizon goal," said Free.

SOMD will focus on launch and space operations, including the International Space Station, the commercialisation of low-Earth orbit, and eventually, sustaining operations on and around the Moon.

"The space station is the cornerstone of our human spaceflight efforts, and the commercial crew and cargo systems that support the microgravity laboratory are the building blocks to our continued success," said Lueders.

NASA will implement the restructuring over the next few months. The changes will not alter any missions or the roles played by agency research centres, the agency said.



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