Moon mission leader leaves NASA after 45 days

Pablo Tucker
May 26, 2019

Shares of Maxar Technologies Inc (NYSE:MAXR) rocketed by double-digits on Thursday after NASA selected the tech company to help build its Gateway platform in lunar orbit that will shuttle astronauts to the moon.

Shares have spiked 20.5% in response.

Mark Sirangelo, named six weeks ago as special assistant to NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine, left the agency as NASA abandoned a reorganization plan due to a chilly reception on Capitol Hill, Bridenstine said in a statement.

Maxar will develop the power and propulsion component for the first Gateway module, NASA said.

In addition to these missions, which will be all NASA's efforts, there will be five launches carrying the building blocks of the lunar mini-station "Gateway" which will serve as a staging point for the Moon landing.

The US space agency is detailing for the first time its plans to put astronauts back on the Moon by the Trump administration's 2024 deadline.

"It would not be days", he said of the initial Artemis mission.

The Gateway's power and propulsion element is a high-power, 50-kW solar electric propulsion spacecraft section that will provide astronauts access to the entire surface of the Moon.

Maxar is an older NASA partner, having been responsible for the robotic arms deployed on the space shuttles and the International Space Station (ISS).

The contract for the Maxar solution is valued at $375 million and includes an indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity provision.

It was also reported that two people who are close to the space program and who are well aware of the situation said that Sirangelo has been escorted out of NASA's headquarters in Washington after his resignation.

If the American space agency can make it work and send Artemis to the lunar surface within the timeline, they will be global leaders in public or private partnerships, besides being the leaders in space exploration.

However, the U.S. space agency will need a lot more cash to achieve its new target. It has released a video committing to the mission that ends: "We are going".

In 2024, when the Artemis 3 mission is planned, the Gateway station will still be in its early stages; Bridenstine described it as "a very small habitat".

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