NASA has replaced the head of its human space exploration directorate in a major shake-up, United States media reported on Wednesday, as the agency scrambles to meet President Donald Trump's ambitious deadline to return astronauts to the moon by 2024.
The widely-respected Gerstenmaier is a NASA veteran who joined the agency in 1977, rising to become one of its top managers, overseeing the space shuttle program and U.S. operations on the International Space Station before becoming head of HEO.
NASA has shaken up it leadership ranks as the Trump administration pushes the agency to return to the moon. Known as "Gerst, " he was working along side Boeing and SpaceX as they developed spacecraft capable of ferrying NASA's astronauts to the International Space Station.
It also plans to do the same thing with Neil Armstrong's spacesuit in order to let the user examine what astronauts wore on the surface of the Moon.
"Nasa has been given a bold challenge to put the first woman and the next man on the moon by 2024, with a focus on the ultimate goal of sending humans to Mars", said agency chief Jim Bridenstine.
"In an effort to meet this challenge, I have decided to make leadership changes to the Human Exploration and Operations (HEO) Mission Directorate".
He said that Ken Bowersox, a former astronaut, who had served as the deputy associate administrator for the human exploration office would take over in an acting capacity.
Bill Hill, a deputy associate administrator under Gerstenmaier, was also moved to a special assistant position under NASA's associate administrator Steve Jurczyk. Despite the historic mission and overwhelming proof, many have believed the USA and NASA faked the Moon landing.
Wednesday's shakeups are the latest as NASA aims to transform itself into "a leaner, more accountable and more agile organization", as Pence said in the March speech to the National Space Council.
However, a NASA historian has established why he feels people should not believe the Moon landing conspiracy theory, and fears it will get worse over time as living memory of it recedes.
"On the anniversary of the Moon landing, we're bringing you new ways to learn about this milestone of human achievement, including new perspectives and stories that celebrate the lesser-known figures who made it happen", Google said in a blog post.