NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said in an interview today that his decision to reassign Bill Gerstenmaier and Bill Hill was not abrupt, but reflected the growing concern that the cost and schedule estimates of the systems needed for the Artemis program They are not realistic. Underscoring repeatedly the need to fulfill the White House's goal of returning astronauts to the Moon by 2024, what counts now is "realism" and believes that new leadership is needed to reevaluate programs and establish new lines of base if necessary.
On Wednesday night, Bridenstine announced that Gerstenmaier, the Associate Administrator for the Operations and Human Exploration Mission Directorate (HEOMD), and Hill, the Assistant Deputy Administrator for the Development of Exploration Systems, had been reassigned to advisory roles. principal in the agency.
Hill had been in charge of the program to develop NASA's new large rocket, the Space Launch System (SLS), the Orion spacecraft and the associated Exploration Earth Systems to send astronauts to the Moon and beyond . He informed Gerstenmaier, who oversaw all of NASA's human spaceflight activities, including the International Space Station and commercial crew programs.
In an interview with SpacePolicyOnline.com this afternoon, Bridenstine praised Gerstenmaier's 42 years of "incredible service" to NASA and credited it with the development The plan To achieve the goal of the moon by 2024. He also insisted that Gerstenmaier will continue to provide services at NASA and that he be assigned as special adviser to Deputy Administrator Jim Morhard is just a "pending detail of reassignment".
By emphasizing this decision only because of his decision, not directed by the White House, he pointed to a series of reports over several years of the NASA Inspector General (IG) and the Government Accountability Office (GAO), which eroded his confidence in the Gerstenmaier's ability to execute the plan.
Gerstenmaier had testified before the Committee on Science, Space and Technology of the House of Representatives on Wednesday morning and nothing seemed to be wrong, but only a few hours later, at approximately 8:30 p.m. Eastern time, Bridenstine sent a note to the employees who announced the reassignments. It surprised the space community, including the leadership of the committee.
Today, Bridenstine insisted that the decision was not abrupt and that no factor prompted the action on Wednesday. Instead, it was the result of growing concerns and the desire to "not waste time."
IG and GAO reports have criticized NASA's calendar and cost estimates for being unrealistic. With 2024 imminent, what he needs now is "realism" and for him that must come from a new leadership.
"We have to be absolutely committed to the cost and the schedule. … The more we wait to face the challenges of schedules and costs, the harder it will become. "
He plans to move quickly to find successors and announced a nationwide search yesterday. Your first task will be to take a fresh look at the programs and "re-establish the baseline as necessary to achieve the objectives."
When asked what will happen if they say that reaching the Moon by 2024 is not possible, he replied:
"We can do it in 2024. I trust we can, the question is the commitment to be realistic … Milestones are important when you try to put together a program to land on the Moon in 2024. Milestones are important. of the process are not realistic, then the milestones at the end of the process will not be realistic either, so we must make sure we have a realism built into the system so that we can plan accordingly through the administration of the program, so that we can have the right things in the right place at the right time. " – Administrator of NASA Jim Bridenstine
A short-term problem is whether or not to perform the "Green Execution" test of the central SLS stage or skip it to save time. A decision was expected in June, but Bridenstine said today that he will wait until the new team has a chance to weigh. He believes it is "very likely" that a Green Run test will be conducted, but "how much of a Green" Run "will be determined by the new leadership of HEOMD.
Last update: July 12, 2019 at 6:27 p.m. Eastern Time