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Enlarge / NASA chief Jim Bridenstine has been looking for a new Associate Administrator for human spaceflight.NASA

Nearly two months have now passed since NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine essentially fired Bill Gerstenmaier, the agency's chief of human spaceflight. Since then, Bridenstine has been winnowing a field of potential candidates for this critical position at NASA—a position which has oversight of all human spaceflight activities, including the space station, commercial crew, and Artemis lunar programs.

The Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel on Friday urged Bridenstine to move quickly on finding a qualified replacement for the highly respected Gerstenmaier.

"It is important to recognize the sense of uncertainty that accompanies a vacuum in a key leadership position, and address the need for stable and credible direction for the future," said panel chair Patricia Sanders during a meeting at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston. "NASA personnel are continuing to move forward and progress on the programs of record. Its in their DNA. But having positive confirmation of the specific direction from a permanent leader is imperative. And a sense of uncertainty should not be allowed to linger during this critical time."

A source close to Bridenstine disputed the notion that there is a vacuum in leadership at the agency, citing the interim appointment of five-time astronaut and former aerospace industry official Ken Bowersox to fill Gerstenmaier's job. However, this source said that Bridenstine is "close" to making a hire to permanently replace Gerstenmaier.

Not "business as usual"

During the advisory panel meeting, the members who spoke publicly about NASA's Artemis program were generally supportive. Former Federal Aviation Administration official George Nield noted the progress NASA has made this year in rapidly soliciting ideas and bids from industry to finalize development of a Lunar Gateway near the Moon, along with a multi-stage lander to take humans from the that lunar space station down to the lunar surface.

"I was particularly impressed with the kinds of things that NASA is doing to position the Read More – Source

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