Bill Nelson’s NASA divides key space program leadership between Kathy Lueders and Jim Free

There was something refreshing last summer when NASA promoted Kathy Lueders from her leadership role over Commercial Crew and Commercial Cargo programs to lead Human Explorations & Operations.

A key goal of the Artemis program is to send the first woman and person of color to the Moon in this decade. It only felt appropriate that a highly qualified female would make key Artemis program decisions after the unceremonious departure of her predecessor.

Now Bill Nelson’s NASA is dividing the human spaceflight program into two separate mission directorates: Exploration Systems Development Mission Directorate and Space Operations Mission Directorate.

Jim Free, a former NASA deputy, will take on exploration duties while Lueders retains her responsibilities in operations.

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Kathy Leuders to lead human spaceflight as NASA works toward sending first woman and next man to the Moon

NASA replaced its spaceflight lead Doug Leverro in charge of human exploration just days before SpaceX sent astronauts to the space station for the first time last month. Kenneth Bowersox temporarily took the position in an acting role during the Demo-2 mission on May 30.

Today, NASA has filled the position of Human Exploration & Operations Mission Directorate in an official capacity. Kathy Leuders, who has managed Commercial Crew and Commercial Cargo programs for NASA since 2014, will now lead Human Explorations & Operations.

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