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Exclusive: NASA administrator announces decision to replace head of human spaceflight programs



1; The longtime head of NASA's human spaceflight programs has met Trump's ambitious goal of returning American astronauts to the Moon in five

William Gerstenmaier – known within the agency as simply "barley" – started working at NASA in 1977 as an engineer and rose to the position of associate administrator for human exploration and operations NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine

"He's been at NASA for 42 years and we love him, and in fact, we have an opportunity now to land on The Moon in the year 2024 because of the hard work that he puts into the program, "Bridenstine said of Gerstenmaier in an exclusive interview with Fox News. "But sometimes we need to remember, he started working at NASA when I was 2 years old, and there comes a time in every career when it's time to move on."

 William Gerstenmaier, seen here in November 2018, has been Replaced as associate administrator for human exploration at NASA.

William Gerstenmaier, seen here in November 2018, has been replaced as associate administrator for human exploration at NASA.
       (Sergei Savostyanov / TASS via Getty Images, File)

When pressed about what he earned, Gerstenmaier's his demotion, Bridenstine said, "I do not think there's anything that he was not doing. I just think it's time for new leadership. "

House Science, Space and Technology Committee Chairwoman Eddie Bernice Johnson, D-Texas, said she is baffled by the decision to abruptly remove someone with Gerstenmaier's level of institutional knowledge.

"The Trump Administration's Ill-Defined Crash Program to Land Astronauts on the Moon in 2024 What to Do?" "Human spaceflight programs at the end of the day are misguided at best," Johnson said.

For months, the Trump administration has been blunted about its frustration with the space agency's track record of running over budget and behind schedule.

"NASA must transform itself into a leaner, more accountable, and more agile organization," Vice President Mike Pence said in March when he announced the new moonshot program. "If NASA is not capable of landing American astronauts on the Moon in five years, we need to change the organization, not the mission."

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Former NASA astronaut Ken Bowersox was named head of human exploration, but Bridenstine is launching a nationwide search to find a permanent

" We Are Moving Almost to the Moon We need a new generation of leaders that will step up and move out of the matter," Bridenstine said.

Rep. Johnson

"You do not change horses in midstream, or if you try to do so, you better have the other horse ready to go," Johnson said.

NASA's new moonshot program is named Ar temis because it is the "twin sister" to the Apollo program that achieved the first lunar landing 50 years ago next week. [InancientGreekmythologyArtemisandApollowerethetwinoffspringofthegodZeusandtheGoddessLeto)

Bridenstine insists that Gerstenmaier was on board with Artemis' accelerated timeline.

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"He helped us create this timeline. He gave us the guidance that achievable, "said Bridenstine. "In fact, we have a chance to land [on the Moon] in 2024 because of his efforts."

But those efforts were not enough for Gerstenmaier to keep his job. Bridenstine replied: "Not at this time."


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