The new recruitment deepens SpaceX's expertise in human spaceflight ahead of the first trip by astronauts onboard a U.S. vehicle since the space shuttle was decommissioned in 2011. SpaceX will be carrying astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley to the International Space Station (ISS) as early as this spring in a Crew Dragon demonstration flight
FREMONT, CA: SpaceX has hired a longtime NASA spaceflight expert, Bill Gerstenmaier, as the company prepares to fly its first astronauts this year. The Elon Musk owned company has hired Gerstenmaier as a consultant to the SpaceX reliability team. Gerstenmaier recently retired from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration after a 42-year career, during which he worked on the Space Shuttle program, the International Space Station, and most recently, the Artemis project to return astronauts to the moon.
The new recruitment deepens SpaceX's expertise in human spaceflight ahead of the first trip by astronauts onboard a U.S. vehicle since the space shuttle was decommissioned in 2011. SpaceX will be carrying astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley to the International Space Station (ISS) as early as this spring in a Crew Dragon demonstration flight. The tentative date for the trip has been set for May 7, 2020. SpaceX has already completed a successful uncrewed flight in March last year for NASA’s Commercial Crew program, which is designed to end U.S. reliance on Russia’s Soyuz program for trips to the space station.
Currently, SpaceX is also working on the Starship spacecraft in South Texas, designed to carry a larger number of passengers to Mars. Gerstenmaier was relieved from the post of NASA’s associate administrator for human spaceflight in July last year, after 14 years as an administrator to oversee space operations and flight. The ousting came as NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine sought to speed work on Boeing’s long-delayed and over-budget SLS rocket and to speed up the agency’s work rate for a human landing on the moon, before 2025. Following this, Gerstenmaier was named as a special adviser to the deputy administrator.
Recently, Boeing's test flight failed to reach the space station, citing critical software defects in Boeing's CST-100 Starliner. A review of the company's quality control has been set up in light of the same. The Starliner's next flight is yet to be scheduled. Gerstenmaier’s valuable experience could help SpaceX attract future NASA contract awards for ferry runs to the space station, and potential transportation needs to and from the moon. The NASA veteran is widely respected for his deep technical expertise.
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