The new directorates consist of the Exploration Systems Development Mission Directorate and the Space Operations Mission Directorate. The former will manage systems development for NASA’s newer missions, like the Moon to Mars program, which aims to get humans on Mars before the end of the decade, as well as Artemis lunar exploration missions. Artemis is of NASA’s biggest programs, one that seeks to foster diversity in moon exploration and “enable a lunar economy.” The latter will be responsible for launch and space operations, like commercial LEO flights and the International Space Station.
The reorganization won’t operationally impact any current missions, the safety of which NASA says it’s still heavily focused on.
“This reorganization positions NASA and the United States for success as we venture farther out into the cosmos than ever before, all while supporting the continued commercialization of space and research on the International Space Station,” said NASA administrator Bill Nelson.
Get ready for acronym soup: Jim Free, who previously served as the agency’s chief operating officer, will return to NASA as associate administrator of the Exploration Systems Development Mission Directorate (ESDMD). Kathy Leuders, the first woman to head human spaceflight and current head of the Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate (HEOMD), will become associate administrator of the Space Operations Mission Directorate (SOMD). Free and Leuders are said to be a “dynamic duo,” ideal for helping to “forge the future of human exploration,” according to Nelson.
A major reason for the reorganization appears to be to avoid vague, unfocused oversight. One large directorate is inherently harder to effectively manage and scale than two smaller ones. According to SpaceNews, Nelson said at a town hall meeting that HEOMD had gotten too large, and that it took up nearly half of NASA’s total budget. In an era of increased interest in commercial spaceflight and Mars habitation, it’s a fair business move on NASA’s part to have one directorate focus on existing missions central to its core operations, while the other explores new territory (literally). The reorganization is also a bit of a “throwback” to pre-2011 when NASA combined two directorates—Space Operations and Exploration Systems—into the very directorate that’s now splitting up.
NASA Begins Building Orion Spacecraft that Will Return Humans to Moon
NASA's primary Orion contractor Lockheed Martin has just started work on one very important project: the first welds of the Orion capsule that will return humans to the moon.
Epic’s New MetaHuman Creator Generates Digital Characters that Avoid the Uncanny Valley
The company's new MetaHuman engine promises to deliver photorealistic digital characters in a snap, and you can check out a demo right now.
New Xiaomi Phone Has a Secondary Display in the Camera Hump
Chinese mobile giant Xiaomi is set to announce a new device called the Mi 11 Ultra, and the device has leaked early. It's got a giant camera module that supports up to 120x zoom, and there's even an extra screen. Yes, a screen in the camera hump. Because why not, I guess?