NASA’s Kathy Lueders.
NASA / Kim Shiflett
The NASA official who oversaw the first SpaceX astronaut launch last month will now lead all the agency’s human spaceflight efforts, including its goal to land astronauts on the moon by 2024.
NASA chief Jim Bridenstine on Friday announced that Kathy Lueders was selected as the agency’s associate administrator of its Human Exploration & Operations mission directorate. He said in a tweet that Lueders to be “the right person to lead HEO as we prepare to send astronauts to the Moon.”
Lueders had led the agency’s Commercial Crew program since 2014. That program has seen NASA award billions in funding to SpaceX and Boeing, to each develop new spacecraft to carry astronauts to the International Space Station. Last month, with Lueders signing off on the mission, SpaceX launched its Crew Dragon spacecraft with astronauts on board for the first time ― marking a historic moment for the space company and the return of human spaceflight to the U.S. for the first time in a decade.
Her expanded responsibilities now include the agency’s current goal to land astronauts on the moon by 2024. Lueders replaces former HEO lead Doug Loverro, who left the agency abruptly last month after less than a year in the role. In his resignation letter, Loverro stated that he took “a risk” that he said was “a mistake,” but he did not elaborate further.
Steve Stich, who has been NASA’s program manager for the International Space Station, will take over for Lueders at the Commercial Crew program.
SpaceX CEO Elon Musk has previously declared himself to be “a big fan of Kathy Lueders!”
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