National Academies Review Not Needed As Astronaut Corps Diminishes

Astronaut Garrett Reisman has joined a growing number of veteran astronauts who have left NASA. Photo Credit: NASA.gov

Astronaut Garrett Reisman recently left NASA to work for Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) of Hawthorne, Calif. His departure from the space agency highlights what some might describe as a mass exodus from the nation’s astronaut corps in the wake of sweeping changes that have been put into place regarding NASA’s manned space flight program.

With no named program in place and only slots on the International Space Station open, many astronauts are deciding to seek other, more productive lines of employment. Within the past year NASA has lost, Dominic Gorie, Marsha Ivins, Jose Hernandez, Alan Poindexter and Resiman.

The White House recently sanctioned the National Academies to conduct a review the total number of astronauts that the space agency actually requires. Given the fact that NASA is losing one astronaut about every two months it seems that the real issue will be whether-or-not NASA will have enough astronauts remaining when it has a replacement spacecraft ready.

Currently, there are a number of different proposals of what should follow the shuttle program, which is currently scheduled to end this summer with the landing of Atlantis after it completes its STS-135 mission. When that time comes, the U.S. will have to rely on one of its ISS partners, Russia, for flights to the orbiting laboratory. Russia has recently announced that seats aboard its Soyuz spacecraft will increase. It will now cost the United States $56 million to a seat to send its astronauts to the orbiting outpost.

Reisman has flown on the space shuttle a total of three times, twice up on STS-123 and STS-132 and once down on STS-124. He will join SpaceX as a senior engineer and will work to develop astronaut safety and assurance.

“I had the pleasure of working with Garrett in space during Expedition 16,” said Peggy Whitson, chief of the Astronaut Office at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston. “He is an incredibly accomplished professional and well-known for his great sense of humor. We wish him the best in this new phase of his career, but we will miss him greatly.”

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