NASA Needs Sharper Leadership to Get to the Moon, Let Alone Mars

Space.com | 11/13/2019 | Meghan Bartels
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Two longtime spaceflight experts told a group of congressional representatives that NASA needed stronger leadership to meet its ambitious 2024 lunar-landing goal, much less to put humans on Mars.

That testimony came during a meeting of the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology's space and aeronautics subcommittee held on Wednesday (Nov. 13). The hearing focused on how to build a human exploration program that keeps Mars as a long-term goal shaping even lunar activities, including NASA's Artemis program to land humans on the moon in 2024.

Americans - Foot - Red - Planet - Subcommittee

"I want Americans to be the first to set foot on the Red Planet," subcommittee chair Kendra Horn, D-Okla., said during her opening statement. "Taking that giant leap will require every ounce of this nation's commitment and capability."

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Hearing - Horn - Colleagues - Range - Issues

Throughout the hearing, Horn and her colleagues framed a range of issues in the context of a human mission to Mars. Two witnesses spoke at the hearing: retired NASA astronaut Thomas Stafford, who flew on two Gemini missions and Apollo 10, and A. Thomas Young, a former director of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland.

Both touched on the importance of high-quality leadership and strong agencywide staffing for such a significant project, and the subcommittee pressured them for more details about what they'd like to see happen within the ranks of NASA.

Stafford - Response - Guiding - Figures - Spaceflight

Stafford framed his response by citing some of the guiding figures of his spaceflight era. James Webb, who ran the agency from 1961 to 1968 and oversaw the bulk of the work behind the moon landing. Werhner von Braun brought his rocket-building skills from Nazi Germany to design the launchers of the era. And Samuel Phillips, an Air Force general who managed the development of the B-52 bomber, was brought in...
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