Shake-up at headquarters sees strategic enterprises restructured into mission directorates

NASA has begun the reorganisation required to focus its efforts on implementation of the new US space exploration vision by streamlining its headquarters organisation. The agency's seven strategic enterprises will be restructured into four mission directorates in an effort to ensure the exploration vision is affordable and sustainable.

Last month, the Aldridge commission on implementation of the new US space policy urged NASA to streamline its structure and focus its resources on space exploration (Flight International, 22-28 June).

Earth and space science will be combined under a Science directorate charged with scientific exploration of the Earth, Moon, Mars and beyond. Exploration Systems will assume responsibility for research into long-duration spaceflight. Space launches and operations in low-Earth orbit will come under Space Operations, while NASA's aviation programmes will be handled by the Aeronautics Research directorate.

The directorates will have more direct oversight of NASA's field centres, but the Aldridge Commission's recommendation that operation of the centres be handed over to universities or private organisations "needs more discussion", says administrator Sean O'Keefe. Aeronautics will oversee the Dryden, Glenn and Langley centres while Ames will be moved under Science, which will also oversee Goddard and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Johnson, Kennedy, Marshall and Stennis will come under Space Operations.

Reporting directly to the administrator, the space and mission assurance office and chief education office will have responsibilities across NASA. The agency also plans to create a strategic planning council to develop multi-year roadmaps. There is no sign of the technical advisory board recommended by Aldridge, who says the first item on the agenda for such a group should be to advise O'Keefe on NASA's aeronautics research: "What are they doing, and is it synergistic [with space exploration]?"



Source: Flight International