NASA Makes Moves to Boost Human Space Exploration
In a recent statement NASA unveiled its new Human Exploration and Operations (HEO) Mission Directorate, designed to boost human space exploration beyond low Earth orbit.

In a recent statement NASA unveiled its new Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate, designed to boost human space exploration beyond low Earth orbit.

The U.S. space agency said the new directorate will focus on "international Space Station operations and human exploration beyond low Earth orbit."

Low Earth orbit refers to the area extending from the Earth's surface up to an altitude of 2,000 km.

The HEO will be headed by Bill Gerstenmaier, a former associate administrator for space operations. NASA stated that while it would take some time for the HEO to take-on all its planned responsibilities, when ready it would take charge of supporting space operations.

HEO is to manage commercial crew and cargo "development programs," constructing the Orion multi-purpose crew vehicle, a new spacecraft designed to travel past low Earth orbit and a new space launch system -- which will apparently be a "new heavy lift" rocket.

"America is opening a bold new chapter in human space exploration," said NASA Administrator Charles Bolden. "By combining the resources of Space Operations and Exploration Systems, and creating the Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate, we are recommitting ourselves to American leadership in space for years to come."