Jun 12, 2020 - Science

NASA selects new head of human spaceflight after agency shake-ups

The Moon above the limb of the Earth as seen from the International Space Station

The Moon as seen from the International Space Station. Photo: NASA

NASA has chosen Kathy Lueders as the next head of human spaceflight for the space agency. She is the first woman to lead human spaceflight at NASA.

Why it matters: Lueders will be key to NASA's plans to land a crew on the surface of the Moon by 2024 as part of the Artemis program.

Background: Lueders previously managed the Commercial Crew Program, which scored a big win with SpaceX's first crewed mission to the International Space Station on May 30.

  • “She has a deep interest in developing commercial markets in space, dating back to her initial work on the space shuttle program," NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine said in a statement referencing her work with Commercial Crew and Commercial Cargo, which uses private companies to bring supplies to the space station.

The intrigue: NASA's previous head of human spaceflight, Doug Loverro resigned suddenly in May after less than one year on the job.

  • Loverro's goodbye note to the agency made reference to a "risk" he took that turned out to be a "mistake."

The big picture: It's not yet clear whether NASA will make its deadline for landing on the Moon in four years.

  • The coronavirus has caused delays to some of the large projects — like the Space Launch System rocket — that are needed in order to get people to the lunar surface.

Go deeper: NASA's 2024 moonshot may not work

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