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NASA officials at the Glenn Symposium address a recent leadership review



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CLEVELAND, Ohio – The reassignment of NASA Associate Administrator for Exploration and Human Operations, Bill Gerstenmaier, was a shock to most members of the space flight community. This was made clear at the Glenn Symposium that was held from July 10 to 12.

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William H. Gerstenmaier, former Associate Administrator of NASA, Human Exploration and Operations. Photo credit: NASA

William H. Gerstenmaier, former Associate Administrator of Human Exploration and Operations at NASA. Photo credit: NASA

CLEVELAND, Ohio – The reassignment of NASA Associate Administrator for Exploration and Human Operations, Bill Gerstenmaier, was a shock to most members of the space flight community. This was made clear at the Glenn Symposium that was held from July 10 to 12.

Gerstenmaier is well respected and has served in the post for more than a decade. There had been no discernible signs of any displeasure or any break in leadership involving Gerstenmaier and other members of NASA or the administration of President Trump.

However, at the end of July 10, NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine announced through a memo to NASA employees that Gerstenmaier was being reassigned as a special assistant to NASA Deputy Administrator Jim Morhard. Former astronaut Ken Bowersox, who served as deputy of Gerstenmaier, was cleared to assume the position of interim associate administrator.

The next day, July 11, both Morhard and Bowersox were present at the John Glenn Memorial Inaugural Symposium in Cleveland, Ohio. The event was organized by the American Astronautical Association in conjunction with NASA's Glenn Research Center.

Morhard was the opening speaker of the event, but he did not address the change of leadership in his comments. Gerstenmaier had been scheduled to speak later in the morning about the planned Lunar Gateway. Bowersox gave the presentation instead.

Space Insider I had the opportunity to ask the two administrators about the leadership change.

"Bill Gerstenmaier has been a visionary," Morhard told Spaceflight Insider. "You think of the commercial team, you think of ISS, you think of SLS, you think of Orion, you think of Gateway. He has guided them all. I mean, this is an incredible man that we should thank for what he has done for the country and for NASA in terms of advancing our priorities in science and technology, and in exploration. So this is not easy, to say the least. "

"But you look at the people in your position," Morhard continued, "your normal life has been about three years, Bill was there at eleven! Then, you know, people are surprised, but the reality is that we have changes There will be a constant change for what we have to do. "

Morhard was asked if there was a change of direction or a new sense of urgency that precipitated the decision.

"You know there's a sense of urgency," he said. "And certainly a new pair of eyes is always useful, but again, for a gentleman like Bill, who has been there, eleven years is a long time for any position at NASA, there is nothing that Bill has done wrong. Ken Bowersox has played important roles in the commercial space, in NASA, in the Navy, and we have full confidence in him to make this transition. "

Bowersox was still adjusting to the news of his new assignment.

"All I can say is that it also surprised me," Bowersox told Spaceflight Insider. "And I just think about the world of the guy who hired me, Bill Gerstenmaier, and I can tell you story after story about him, working with him and for him over the years, all I know is that he would want us to keep moving forward and That's what we're going to do, let's move as fast as we can, and we believe that the best way to honor our boss, Bill Gerstenmaier, is to move as fast as we can to advance to the surface of the Moon. "

Bowersox is highly qualified to lead that effort. He is the veteran of five space shuttle missions and an extended stay aboard the International Space Station as the commander of Expedition 6. Bowersox served as the vice president of Astronaut Security and Mission at Spacex from 2009 to 2011. He served as a consultant to customers. in the space industry, and was part of the NASA Advisory Board before being hired to hold the position of associate associate administrator of NASA for Explorations and Human Operations.

Another announcement in Bridenstine's note was the reassignment of Associate Associate Administrator for Development of Exploration Systems, Bill Hill. Hill will be a special advisor to Associate Administrator Steve Jurczyk. Tom Whitmeyer will take over Hill's previous position.

Gerstenmaier began his career at NASA at NASA Glenn (then the NASA Lewis Research Center) as an aeronautical engineer working on the tests of the Space Shuttle's wind tunnel in 1978. Over the years, he held leadership in numerous programs of the Space Shuttle and the ISS, including as Director of the ISS program in 2002. He became an associate administrator for space operations in 2005, and was appointed associate administrator for human exploration and operations when NASA merged its mission addresses of exploration and space operations in 2011.

Tagged: Glenn Symposium Lead Stories NASA William Gerstenmaier

Michael Cole

Michael Cole is a lifelong space flight enthusiast and author of some 36 educational books on space flight and astronomy for Enslow Publishers. He lives in Findlay, Ohio, not far from the birthplace of Neil Armstrong, Wapakoneta. His interest in space and his experience in journalism and public relations are satisfied by his focus on research and development at NASA's Glenn Research Center and his Plum Brook Station test center, both in northeastern Ohio. . Cole approached SpaceFlight Insider and asked to join SFI as the first member of the "Glenn Team" of the organization.


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