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WASHINGTON — A former space industry executive who joined NASA to guide its revamped lunar exploration strategy has left the agency after just a month and a half.
In an internal memo May 23, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine announced that Mark Sirangelo had stepped down as a special assistant to the administrator after a proposed reorganization of the agency was rejected by Congress.
Reorganization - Moon - Mars - Mission - Directorate
That reorganization would have created a "Moon to Mars Mission Directorate" incorporating parts of the existing Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate (HEOMD) and Space Technology Mission Directorate. Bridenstine announced plans to create the directorate in March, when Vice President Mike Pence set the goal of landing humans on the moon by 2024, saying it would "focus on the formulation and execution of exploration development activities."
Related: Can NASA Really Put Astronauts on the Moon in 2024?
Bridenstine - April - Memo - Sirangelo - Executive
Bridenstine then announced in an April 8 memo that Sirangelo, a former executive vice president at Sierra Nevada Corporation's Space Systems, had joined the agency as a special assistant with "broad responsibility to work across the Mission Directorates to further develop the agency's plans for the Exploration Campaign." Sirangelo was widely seen as the likely choice to lead that new mission directorate.
Congress, though, rejected the proposed reorganization, although Bridenstine did not elaborate on the reasons why in his memo. Without the new directorate, "we will move forward under our current organizational structure within the Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate," he wrote. He added the agency was looking at potential changes within HEOMD "to ensure we maximize efficiencies" and stay on schedule for a 2024 crewed landing.
NASA - Mission - Directorate - Mark - Opportunities
"Given NASA is no longer pursuing the new mission directorate, Mark has opted to pursue other opportunities," Bridenstine stated in the memo.
There had been skepticism both within and outside the agency...
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