NASA International Space Station program manager Kirk Shireman decided to withdraw, just weeks after the first commercial crew mission to the ISS was successful. Shireman reportedly had retirement plans long before the launch of SpaceX, and had planned to leave his post this year, regardless of external factors.
NASA has not yet named a replacement for the publication.
Last month, a NASA executive resigned just days before a mission he helped make possible. Human Space Flight Chief Doug Loverro announced that he would be leaving NASA just as the first commercial crew mission would depart, with a SpaceX Crew Dragon transporting astronauts Doug Hurley and Robert Behnken to the International Space Station for the first time.It was a strange decision, but Loverro said it had nothing to do with the mission of the commercial crew and that the mission itself went smoothly. Now, while Behnken and Hurley are aboard the International Space Station, NASA’s own International Space Station program manager himself announces his retirement. As CNN reports, Kirk Shireman calls it a career at NASA, resigning from his position as ISS program manager in the midst of a very exciting time for NASA and the space flight industry in general. Daniel Hout, NASA’s public affairs officer, announced the departure, though CNN cites unidentified sources that confirmed that Shireman had retirement plans in place long before the SpaceX Crew Dragon took off.
Shireman has been in office for five years, and for all that time (until a couple of weeks ago), NASA relied on Russian rockets to bring its astronauts to the laboratory in orbit. Now, with Crew Dragon as an apparently viable option for launching from American soil, the space agency is in an excellent position. “One of the strengths of an organization like NASA is that we don’t trust a single individual to conduct the entire evaluation and evaluation and management effort,” Robert Behnken told CNN in an interview from the International Space Station. “And if the leader needs to move, then we will get a new leader and continue to move forward. And the team is strong enough to recognize their role in helping that new leader as they enter and take over the organization. “