Google+ Mars Travel: NASA Creates New Department for Human Deep Space Exploration

NASA Creates New Department for Human Deep Space Exploration

Today NASA created a new department, the Human Exploration and Operations (HEO) Mission Directorate, which combines all the resources and missions from the Space Operations and Exploration Systems departments. The head of the new organization is Associate Administrator Bill Gerstenmaie, the former associate administrator for the Space Operations department.

The HEO Mission Directorate has already taken over all operations necessary for supporting the International Space Station. Following a transition time of several weeks, HEO Mission Directorate will take over many operations, including the development of the Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle and a spacecraft with capabilities of travelling beyond low-Earth Orbit.
Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle Being Assembled and Tested

The new HEO Mission Directorate will also focus on developing the commercial space industry in hopes that private companies can take over many of the low-orbit operations performed by NASA and other countries' government-run space agencies. Contracts have already been signed with some private space companies to do just that, one example being the contract signed with SpaceX to resupply to the ISS.  NASA will help fund private research and development so private space companies can begin sending people and cargo into low-Earth orbit. This will let NASA focus on more deep space projects.

"America is opening a bold new chapter in human space exploration," NASA Administrator Charles Bolden asserted in statement. "By combining the resources of Space Operations and Exploration Systems, and creating the Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate, we are recommitting ourselves to American leadership in space for years to come."

The opening of this new directorate gives great hope for the future of Mars travel because if NASA wants to work on human exploration of space they will likely go to Mars first, since it is the closest planet to our own. 

The creation of the HEO Mission Directorate coincides with President Obama's goal for NASA of putting humans on an asteroid by 2025 and on Mars by the mid 2030s. It remains to be seen whether the formation of NASA's latest office will provide direction and leadership for America's human spaceflight program. 


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