A NASA executive tasked with leading the strategy to return U.S. astronauts to the moon has stepped down just six weeks after his appointment.
Mark Sirangelo was tapped in April as special assistant to NASA Administrator Jim BridenstineJames (Jim) Frederick BridenstineNASA chief: Budget boost good first step for return to moon This is not the time to abandon NASA’s Space Launch System Can America return to the moon by 2024? MORE.
Bridenstine announced late Thursday that Sirangelo “has opted to pursue other opportunities,” according to Reuters.
Sirangelo’s abrupt departure comes amid what Reuters described as a “chilly” Capitol Hill response to the Trump administration’s plans to return Americans to the moon by 2024.
Vice President Mike PenceMichael (Mike) Richard PenceNASA exec leading moon mission quits weeks after appointment Republicans spend more than million at Trump properties Dozens of graduates walk out in protest of Pence address MORE said in March that the administration is committed to landing astronauts on the moon within five years, marking the administration’s most concrete timeline to the lunar surface.
President TrumpDonald John TrumpNASA exec leading moon mission quits weeks after appointment The Hill’s Morning Report — After contentious week, Trump heads for Japan Frustration boils over with Senate’s ‘legislative graveyard’ MORE also announced earlier this month that his budget would include an additional $1.6 billion for NASA, saying the U.S. is “going back to the Moon, then Mars.”
Also on Thursday, NASA announced a $375 million contract to Maxar Technologies to develop power and propulsion capabilities for the lunar mission.
The Hill has reached out to NASA for comment.