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NASA reorganizes its manned space bureaucracy

Gotta rearrange those deck chairs! NASA has finally completed a long-planned reorganization of its manned space bureaucracy, first begun several years ago.

At a Sept. 16 Washington Space Business Roundtable webinar, Kathy Lueders, who took over as NASA associate administrator for human exploration and operations three months ago, said that NASA Associate Administrator Steve Jurczyk formally approved a reorganization of her mission directorate the previous day. “It addressed some of the concerns that folks have had and is really getting us set up for our future missions going forward,” she said of the reorganization.

Those concerns include findings from a review called a Program Status Assessment carried out earlier this year. That review cited issues with system engineering oversight for the Artemis program and a lack of a formal Artemis program organization. “We are also using these adjustments to solidify and better define division roles,” the agency said in a statement to SpaceNews.

NASA does this Potemkin-type reorganization about once every decade or so, with little major effect other than to allow the upper management preen itself as it makes believe it has accomplished something. This particular rearrangement however might be a bit more beneficial that past ones, in that it appears aimed at aligning the agency’s bureaucracy with its new status of being a customer of the private sector, rather than its boss and overseer.


Conscious Choice cover

Now available in hardback and paperback as well as ebook!


From the press release: In this ground-breaking new history of early America, historian Robert Zimmerman not only exposes the lie behind The New York Times 1619 Project that falsely claims slavery is central to the history of the United States, he also provides profound lessons about the nature of human societies, lessons important for Americans today as well as for all future settlers on Mars and elsewhere in space.

Conscious Choice: The origins of slavery in America and why it matters today and for our future in outer space, is a riveting page-turning story that documents how slavery slowly became pervasive in the southern British colonies of North America, colonies founded by a people and culture that not only did not allow slavery but in every way were hostile to the practice.  
Conscious Choice does more however. In telling the tragic history of the Virginia colony and the rise of slavery there, Zimmerman lays out the proper path for creating healthy societies in places like the Moon and Mars.


“Zimmerman’s ground-breaking history provides every future generation the basic framework for establishing new societies on other worlds. We would be wise to heed what he says.” —Robert Zubrin, founder of founder of the Mars Society.


All editions available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and all book vendors. The ebook can be purchased direct from my ebook publisher, ebookit, in which case you don't support the big tech companies and I get a bigger cut much sooner. Note that the price for the ebook, $3.99, goes up to $5.99 on September 1, 2022.


Autographed printed copies are also available at discount directly from me (hardback $24.95; paperback $14.95). Just email me at zimmerman @ nasw dot org.


  • “We trained hard, but it seemed that every time we were beginning to form up into teams we would be reorganized. I was to learn later in life that we tend to meet any new situation by reorganizing; and a wonderful method it can be for creating the illusion of progress while producing confusion, inefficiency and demoralisation.”
    — Petronius Arbiter, 58 A.D.

  • Tom Billings

    Stephen, … and Petronius, are correct. When training for something which they really want to get right, which is hard, needing high productivity, whether it is in widgets produced, or in Pilums hitting their targets, people tend to form into teams. That’s good, and a reflection of the old “party/gang “social structure humans evolved in for 2 million years.

    The problem, as far as bureaucracies are concerned, is that teams that gel together also have a habit of, more often than individuals, telling their bureaucracy heads, “No!” When the layers of bureaucracy extend all the way up into Congress, which too often cares more about where the money goes than about how effectively it produces anything, the intermediaries will find themselves shuffling assignments and positions just enough to keep the funding flowing down the hierarchy from Congress, while keeping the actual production at least acceptable. Sometimes they get it right. Too often, they don’t.

  • Edward

    Done right, a reorganization breaks up emerging internal empires and removes deadwood. Since three or more people were in charge of this reorganization. over time, it is hard to say whether it was done right.

  • Col Beausabre

    Tom, Wouldn’t that be pila….The pilum was the Roman javelin. Each man carried two, one light, one heavy

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