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NASA forms a new department focused on manned deep space exploration

The end of the space shuttle era was sad, but the space shuttle was never meant to last forever, and it was never more really than an orbital pick-up truck. Now that the shuttle program is over, NASA is focusing its efforts on more spectacular things, like manned missions to Mars and the asteroid belt.

To embark on its next chapter in human space exploration, NASA has created a new department to oversee manned spaceflight in the post-space-shuttle era.

The department is called the Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate, and combines two previous organizations, the Space Operations Directorate and the Exploration Systems Mission Directorate.

The reorganization is part of top-to-bottom changes moving through the space agency, which finds itself at a turning point. This year NASA retired its 30-year-old space shuttle program, which was the focus and most visible part of its activities over the last few decades. The agency is now gearing up for an era of human missions to deep space, including trips back to the moon, then on to asteroids and Mars.

President Obama challenged NASA to land a man on an asteroid by 2025 and on Mars by 2030 and NASA seems serious to meet those goals, or at least come close. I’ll be here, waiting and cheering.


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