NASA divides the Directorate of Human Space Flight into two organizations

NASA divides the Directorate of Human Space Flight into two organizations

WASHINGTON – NASA announced on Sept. 21 that it was splitting the mission directorate responsible for manned spaceflight into two agencies, one responsible for the development of the search engine and the other responsible for space work.

At the town hall meeting, the NASA leadership announced that the Directorate of Human Exploration and Operations (HEOMD) would be split into two organizations. One, the Directorate of Exploration Systems Development Mission, will be responsible for developing the agency’s Artemis lunar exploration initiative and program for future Mars exploration. Second, the Directorate of Space Operations will handle commercialization efforts, the International Space Station and low Earth orbit.

Kathy Lloyds, HEOMD’s co-administrator in charge, will run the Directorate of Space Operations from June 2020, while NASA has named Jim Free to lead Exploration Systems Development. Free is a former director of the Glenn Research Center who later worked as a deputy associate administrator at HEOMD before leaving the agency in 2017. He recently served as a leadership and professional consultant, and was also chairman of the Technology and Innovation Committee. NASA Advisory Council.

NASA Administrator Bill Nelson said at the town hall meeting, “This restructuring is about the future of space research. “It’s about setting up NASA for success. Creating two separate mission directorates ensures that the focus is on these critical areas. ”

When asked what issues the agency would like to address with this change, Nelson suggested that HEOMD has become too large. Speaking to reporters after the town hall meeting, he said, “The current or former HEO is about half of NASA’s budget.” “You need to have the ability to have two smart people to carry out related responsibilities.”

Divided into NASA’s human space program, exploration and space operations budget accounts, it accounts for 45% of NASA’s fiscal year 2021 budget. However, this percentage has remained flat since the last decade, fluctuating between 44% and 47% over that period.

What has changed, however, is the cost balance between exploration and space operations. NASA has increased spending on new Artemis programs such as the Lunar Gateway and the Human Landing System, with spending on research rising sharply over the past five years, from just 4 4 billion in FY16 to 5 6.5 billion in 2021. Expenditure on space operations fell from just 5 5 billion in 2016 to just 4 4 billion in 2021 as spending on commercial crew development fell.

“The restructuring of NASA’s Directorate of Human Search and Operations missions will help manage this growth safely and effectively,” NASA Deputy Administrator Pam Melroy said at the town hall meeting. “We have the opportunity to better align our organizational structure with the growing activities in LEO and with the developmental exploration architecture, and to ensure that the executive has a team of focused inspectors for the success of the mission.”

While Nelson and Melroy made several references to “focused observation” as part of the restructuring, they did not elaborate on it or if they felt that monitoring human spacecraft programs under HEOMD was insufficient.

Some inside and outside the agency were surprised that the restructuring, indeed, is a demotion for the Lloyders, possibly due to the ongoing controversy over the HLS awards and now the lawsuit. Nelson denied it. “Kathy did such a fantastic job,” he said, returning to his earlier argument that HEOMD is half of NASA’s budget. “It’s too swallowable.”

He added a proposal to split HEOMD which was a foretaste of the HLS controversy and emerged from the transition team from the incoming Biden administration. “The transition made a strong recommendation that we do what we have announced today,” he said.

This announcement effectively creates HEOMD by announcing in August 2011 the merger of the Exploration Systems Mission Directorate and the Space Operations Mission Directorate. Bob Cabana, a longtime former director of the Kennedy Space Center, recalled, “With the cancellation of the constellation and no immediate program for the people there, it was meant to accommodate the directorate at the time.” Associate Administrator of NASA in May.

“Now that we’ve built on what the administrator said, this is a very successful organization that’s half our budget, it’s the right time to focus on finding out.”

While the split of HEOMD took effect immediately, agency leaders said it would take 90 to 120 days for the institutional changes to be fully implemented. “It’s very important that we take one step at a time and we don’t put the ball anywhere,” Melroy said.

At a town hall meeting, Free and Lloyds said they look forward to working together. “The next day, someone said, ‘This is going to be great. You’re a dynamic couple, “said Lloyd. “I don’t know which of you is Batman and which is Robin. I feel like every time we switch back and forth. ”

Sneha Mali

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