NASA now plans to split its human spaceflight department into two separate bodies. One will be centred on big, future-oriented missions to the moon and Mars.
The other one will be focused on the International Space Station (ISS) and other operations closer to earth.
The announcement was made by NASA chief Bill Nelson on Tuesday.
Nelson also said that the shake-up was spurred by a recent proliferation of flights and commercial investment in low-earth orbit (LEO) even as NASA steps up its development of deep-space aspirations.
“Today is more than organisational change. It’s setting the stage for the next 20 years, it’s defining NASA’s future in a growing space economy,” Nelson said at a press briefing.
This will break up NASA‘s Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate into two separate branches.
Henceforth, one branch will be dedicated to more routine launch and spaceflight activities. This will include missions involving the space station and privatisation of low-earth orbit (LEO) among others.
This announcement comes less than a week after SpaceX launched the first all-civilian crew. They became the first ever to reach orbit and returned them safely to earth.