Bill Gerstenmaier, a former director of space at NASA headquarters and a respected aerospace engineer and manager, has taken on a consulting position at SpaceX. The California-based rocket company NASA helped cargo ships in 2008 by placing an order worth $ 1.6 billion to build and launch a space station.
Former NASA administrator Charles Bolden, an experienced shuttle commander, congratulated and called it "a huge asset to the SpaceX team".
Dmitry Rogozin, head of the Russian space agency Roscosmos, said in another tweet: "Congratulations to @SpaceX for inviting an excellent engineer, the former manager of the program manned by @NASA, William Gerstenmaier."
Gerstenmaier, known throughout the aerospace industry only as "Gerst", joined the agency in 1977 and played a key role in the development of the International Space Station. He also directed NASA's participation with Roscosmos in the Shuttle Mir program and served as overall manager of the space station program before becoming Associate Administrator for Space at NASA headquarters in 2005.
by NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine in July 2019, largely to pave the way for a new management team to oversee the final development of the missiles, spacecraft, and infrastructure required to send astronauts back to the moon as part of the Artemis program.
The decision to remove Gerstenmaier shocked many insiders from agencies who complained about the loss of their technical expertise and management skills. Others, however, saw him as a more traditional aerospace manager who may not keep up with the companyput , four years earlier than NASA had planned.
It was not immediately clear what role Gerstenmaier could play at SpaceX. The company confirmed that he was an advisor to SpaceX's "reliability team", but no further details were immediately available.
After the Columbia disaster in 2003, NASA was ordered to decommission the Space Shuttle by the end of the decade. NASA had to quickly come up with another way to deliver supplies and equipment to the outpost. On December 23, 2008, Gerstenmaier announced that SpaceX and Orbital Sciences had contracts to build and launch commercial cargo ships.
When the $ 1.6 billion SpaceX contract was announced, founder Elon Musk said the company had practically no money after three failures of its Falcon 1 rocket. The rocket had its fourth success in September 2008, but the way forward was far from free.
Then, the week before Christmas this year, "NASA called and said we had won a $ 1.6 billion contract," Musk said in one, "And I couldn't even hold the phone, I just blurted out, I love you."
Correspondent Scott Pelley: "They saved you."
Musk: Yes, they did.
At a press conference announcing the contract, Gerstenmaier said, "This is a pretty monumental thing for us. This is a contract that we really need to keep the space station running and maintain the space station."
"I find it exciting that we do this from the commercial side. We have some good suggestions and we picked the two winners."
Since then, SpaceX has launched 80 Falcon 9 rockets, 19 replenishment missions for space stations and three Falcon Heavy rockets, and is preparing to use a Crew Dragon ferry to carry two astronauts to the space station to prevent NASA from being alone on Russian Soyuz spacecraft trips to and from the space station.