Featured Image Source: NASA
SpaceX is just a few months away from conducting their very first manned mission that will take NASA Astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS) aboard the Crew Dragon spacecraft, that will launch atop a Falcon 9 rocket. The first crewed flight could take place in May this year. NASA has not launched humans to space in almost a decade, SpaceX will ignite a new era where astronauts launch from American soil. Ultimately, SpaceX aims to launch astronauts to the moon and Mars, they just hired a former NASA official William Gerstenmaier, who specializes in human spaceflight. Previously, he worked for nearly 14 years as the NASA Associate Administrator for Human Exploration and Operations. He also became Director of Space Shuttle and Space Station Freedom Assembly Operations, and was named Chief of the Projects and Facilities Branch of the Flight Design and Dynamics Division. Throughout his extensive career, he led the space shuttle program, the International Space Station, as well as the Commercial Crew program, among other space exploration projects. He even became the liaison to the Russian Space Agency for operations and protocols. So, Gerstenmaier is considered in the aerospace industry as one of the world’s top specialists in human spaceflight. As soon as the news of his new job position at SpaceX was announced, the head of Russian's state space corporation Roscosmos, Dmitry Rogozin, tweeted his congratulations:
Congrats to @SpaceX with hiring an outstanding Aerospace Engineer, former @NASA Head of Human Exploration Program William Gerstenmaier. His role in the #ISS project was tremendous. I wish my friend Bill every success in his new position! https://t.co/Ir5DxAer96— Дмитрий Рогозин (@Rogozin) February 11, 2020
According to CNBC, Gerstenmaier joined SpaceX as a consultant and is reporting to the Vice President of Mission Assurance at SpaceX Hans Koenigsmann. Leaders in the aerospace industry often describe Gerstenmaier as "the most influential person when it comes to United States spaceflight." Gerstenmaier's role at SpaceX is as a consultant, to prepare for the first manned mission to the space station.
Crew Dragon separating from Falcon 9 during today’s test, which verified the spacecraft’s ability to carry astronauts to safety in the unlikely event of an emergency on ascent pic.twitter.com/rxUDPFD0v5— SpaceX (@SpaceX) January 19, 2020