NASA Tuesday named its replacement director for the space agency’s lunar space station Gateway Program, expected to launch in 2025. File Image courtesy of NASA
March 28 (UPI) -- NASA Tuesday named its replacement director for the space agency's lunar space station project called Gateway Program.
Dr. Jon B. Olansen has been with the program since its inception in 2019 and replaces the retiring Dan Hartman, the agency said in a statement.
"Dan has assembled an outstanding team in the Gateway Program. It's been an honor to work with him, and I look forward to building on the foundation he's laid for Gateway as it plays its part in the expansion of human frontiers in the near future," Olansen said in a statement.
The Gateway Program is part of NASA's larger Artemis III mission to return astronauts to the moon's surface. That mission is scheduled to launch in late 2025, at which time the program will have cost an estimated $93 billion.
Olansen, whose father was a pilot in the U.S. Air Force, started work at NASA's Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center in 1989 as a Rockwell Space Operations Company employee.
He has been supervising the development of the Gateway Program's Habitation and Logistics Outpost module. The HALO module will house astronauts as they conduct research during Artemis missions.
Olansen's PhD specialized in biomedical experimentation in electrophysiology and cardiopulmonary hemodynamics.
Last year, he received the NASA Outstanding Leadership Medal for his work on the HALO project. He also has two NASA Exceptional Service Medals, a NASA Systems Engineering Tech Excellence Award, and a NASA Space Flight Safety Award, in addition to several other commendations.
"Jon is a brilliant engineer and talented leader with an exceptional history of managing large projects with innovative approaches to exploration," Johnson Space Center director Vanessa Wyche said in a statement.
"He's a perfect fit for Gateway, which brings together international and commercial partnerships, and is an essential element in future human space exploration. The program is in excellent hands."
The HALO module is one of the first components of the space station scheduled to launch in 2025.
Once launched and operational, the Gateway Program will allow for ongoing exploration and research in deep space, including docking ports for multiple visiting spacecraft. Crew will also use the platform to live, work, and prepare for lunar surface missions. NASA also expects it to serve a critical role in future Mars exploration.