The project, called Artemis, would be the first attempt to return humans to the lunar surface since the last Apollo landing in 1972, but some experts doubt whether the deadline is realistic given the budget constraints and the delays in the development of rockets next generation and necessary equipment for the trip.
To face this “bold challenge,” NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine said in an email to employees that Bill Gerstenmaier, director of the Office of Human Exploration and Operations (HEO) the agency was removed from office and assigned an advisory role, the Washington Post and other news media in the United States.
The highly respected Gerstenmaier is a NASA veteran who joined the agency in 1977, and became one of its top managers, overseeing the space shuttle program and US operations. UU On the International Space Station before becoming a HEO director.
“We, as a nation, are grateful for your service to promote the priorities of the United States and expand the boundaries of science, technology and exploration,” Bridenstine wrote of Gerstenmaier in his email, according to CBS News.
According to Bridenstine’s email, former astronaut Ken Bowersox will be the acting head of the section.
The US plan to return humans to the moon, including the first woman, is plagued by delays and excessive costs, according to an official audit published last month.
The cost of the giant rocket of the Boeing Space Launching System (SLS), at the core of the Artemis project, has increased by almost 30 percent to $ 8 billion, and it is unlikely that its first flight already delayed will take place at June 2020 as planned.
The costs of the Orion capsule that Lockheed Martin is building to transport the astronauts have also increased.