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article imageNASA official quits weeks after being chosen to lead moon mission

By Karen Graham     May 24, 2019 in Politics
Washington - A top NASA official appointed the head of strategy for the space agency’s planned mission to the moon in 2024 quit his role on Wednesday, just weeks after starting the job.
Mark Sirangelo was appointed six weeks ago as a special assistant to NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine but left the agency after NASA abandoned a reorganization plan for the 2024 lunar mission that was rejected by Congress, reports Reuters.
Bridenstine announced late Thursday that because NASA is "no longer pursuing the new mission directorate," Sirangelo "has opted to pursue other opportunities," according to The Hill.
"We are exploring what organizational changes ... are necessary to ensure we maximize efficiencies and achieve the end state of landing the first woman and next man on the Moon by 2024," Bridenstine said in a statement obtained by The Hill.
Mark Sirangelo speaking at NASA Future Forum being held at Seattle s Museum of Flight on Friday  Dec...
Mark Sirangelo speaking at NASA Future Forum being held at Seattle's Museum of Flight on Friday, Dec. 9, 2011.
NASA/Bill Ingalls
NASA made an appeal to Congress on May 13 for an additional $1.6 billion in funding for the newly named 2024 Artemis Moon Mission.
The additional funding was for NASA's 2020 budget that already being allocated $21.5 billion. The additional money would cover its accelerated deadline to land humans on the moon, which was moved forward from 2028 to 2024 by President Donald Trump in March of this year.
In March this year, Vice-president Mike Pence announced the Trump administration wanted to push those plans to 2024. This way, the mission would line up with a possible second term for President Trump, reports ZME Science.
NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine (L) -- seen here at the US space agency's headquarters in No...
NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine (L) -- seen here at the US space agency's headquarters in November 2018 -- says the acceleration of the calendar for a new Moon mission is "aggressive" but doable, and vital for any future Mars mission
Brendan Smialowski, AFP/File
“If the $1.6 billion does not materialize, we will fall back on the previous plan, which was to land in 2028,” the NASA chief told reporters at a news conference earlier in the day. "I want to personally thank Mark for his service and his valuable contributions to the agency," Bridenstine added.
Last week, NASA went ahead and awarded a total of $45.5 million in grants to 11 U.S. companies, including Elon Musk's SpaceX and Jeff Bezos' Blue Origin, to help them develop spacecraft that can get astronauts to the lunar surface.
Canadarm (right) during Space Shuttle mission STS-72.
Canadarm (right) during Space Shuttle mission STS-72.
NASA
On Thursday, NASA announced a $375 million contract to Maxar Technologies to develop power and propulsion capabilities for the lunar mission. Maxar Technologies is headquartered in Westminster, Colorado - specializing in manufacturing communication, earth observation, radar, and on-orbit servicing satellites, satellite products, and related services.
Maxar's most visible products include the Canadarm used on NASA's Space Shuttle, as well as the Canadarm2 and Dextre remote manipulator systems used on the International Space Station.
More about NASA, Moon mission, Artemis, new organizational structure, Congress
 
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