NASA establishes a Moon to Mars office

HOUSTON — During preparations for the Artemis 2 mission, NASA established an office commissioned by Congress to oversee planning for this and future missions to the moon.

NASA announced on March 30 that it has established the Moon to Mars Program Office within the Exploration Systems Development Mission Directorate. The office will focus on integrating the various programs running as part of Artemis’ lunar exploration campaign, from Orion and the space launch system to Gateway, lunar landers and space suits.

Congress directed NASA to set up the office in a NASA permit issued last year as part of the CHIPS and Science Act. It arose out of concerns within Congress and among NASA advisers that there was no single person overseeing all of the programs that made up Artemis.

The office will be headed by Amit Kshatriya, the previously acting Deputy Assistant Administrator for Joint Exploration Systems Development. “It’s important to know what it is, and it’s important to know what it isn’t,” he said of the new position in an interview at the Johnson Space Center following the April 3 announcement of the Artemis 2 crew .

The managers of the different programs, he explained, still do the same jobs. “This is primarily a reshuffling of roles and responsibilities at headquarters,” he said. This work was carried out before the permitting act was passed to ensure “consistent integration” between the programmes. “We hope to speed up the reorganization of headquarters a bit and eliminate duplication in certain areas.”

“I think what really allows us is to have that single focus that’s worried about our near-term missions,” Jim Free, NASA’s deputy administrator for exploration systems development, said in an interview through the bureau. “I’ve really tried to focus this office so that it’s your job to work on it [Artemis] 2 to 5.”

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This role, he noted, had been his responsibility prior to the founding of the office. “I think it gives us this single spot that anyone can go to,” he said. “He can follow and take care of these missions every day.”

Kshatriya said his focus is “primarily” on Artemis 2. “There are lessons from Artemis 1 that we need to make sure we integrate,” he said, as well as the completion of the SLS and Orion vehicles and works on the required ground systems for the mission. “The next mission is 100% my priority to make sure none of this realignment that we’re making affects it.”

However, part of the office’s job is to look ahead. “One of the things we were tasked with at the Moon to Mars office was making sure that the technical developments and the mission modes that we select are consistent with potential future Mars-level activity,” he said. This ranges from testing closed life support systems to developing the gateway.

“We’ve done that with every investment we’ve made,” he said, “but putting it together and bringing it to the fore in terms of the message and the type of philosophy that I think is at the forefront of the exploration program.” from us still.”

“The way we implemented what Congress asked us to do I think will turn out very well,” Free said.