The son of first-generation Indian immigrants, Kshatriya is responsible for NASA’s human missions to the Moon and Mars
Indian American software and robotics engineer Amit Kshatriya has been appointed the first head of US space agency NASA’s newly established Moon to Mars Program Office at NASA Headquarters in Washington.
This new office within the Exploration Systems Development Mission Directorate has been set up to carry out the agency’s human exploration activities at the Moon and Mars for the benefit of humanity, according to a NASA release.
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“The Moon to Mars Program Office will help prepare NASA to carry out our bold missions to the Moon and land the first humans on Mars,” said NASA Administrator Bill Nelson.
“The golden age of exploration is happening right now, and this new office will help ensure that NASA successfully establishes a long-term lunar presence needed to prepare for humanity’s next giant leap to the Red Planet.”
In his new role, Kshatriya is responsible for program planning and implementation for human missions to the Moon and Mars. He directs and leads the programs to ensure Artemis and Mars planning, development, and operations are consistent with ESDMD requirements, and serves as the single point of focus for risk management.
Previously, Kshatriya served as the acting deputy associate administrator for the Common Exploration Systems Development Division.
In this role, Kshatriya directed and provided leadership and integration for the Space Launch System, Orion, and Exploration Ground Systems programs, as well as associated Artemis Campaign Development Division initiatives linking the agency’s Moon to Mars objectives.
Kshatriya began his career in the space program in 2003, working as a software engineer, robotics engineer, and spacecraft operator primarily focused on the robotic assembly of the International Space Station.
From 2014 to 2017, he served as a space station flight director, where he led global teams in the operations and execution of the space station during all phases of flight.
From 2017 to 2021, he became deputy, and then acting manager, of the ISS Vehicle Office, where he was responsible for sustaining engineering, logistics, and hardware program management.
In 2021, he was assigned to NASA Headquarters in the Exploration Systems Development Mission Directorate as an assistant deputy associate administrator, where he was an integral part of the team that returned a spacecraft designed to carry humans to the Moon during the Artemis I mission.
Kshatriya holds a Bachelor of Science in Mathematics from the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, California, and a Master of Arts in Mathematics from The University of Texas at Austin.
He was born in Brookfield, Wisconsin, but considers Katy, Texas, to be his hometown. He and his wife are the proud parents of three children, and he is also the proud son of first-generation Indian immigrants to the United States.
He has been decorated with the NASA Outstanding Leadership Medal for actions as the lead flight director for the 50th expedition to the space station, as well as the Silver Snoopy — an award that astronauts bestow for outstanding performance contributing to flight safety — for his actions as lead robotics officer for the Commercial Orbital Transportation Services Dragon demonstration mission to the orbiting laboratory.
As directed by the 2022 NASA Authorization Act, the Moon to Mars Program Office focuses on hardware development, mission integration, and risk management functions for programs critical to the agency’s exploration approach that uses Artemis missions at the Moon to open a new era of scientific discovery and prepare for human missions to Mars, according to the NASA release.
This includes the Space Launch System rocket, Orion spacecraft, supporting ground systems, human landing systems, spacesuits, Gateway, and more related to deep space exploration. The new office will also lead planning and analysis for long-lead developments to support human Mars missions.
The Space Operations Mission Directorate remains responsible for all low-Earth orbit space operations and is focused on the space station, space communications and navigation supporting all NASA human and science exploration missions, as well as a continued development of a vibrant and expanding commercial space economy closer to home, the release said.
Space Operations also manages the Launch Services Program, Commercial Crew Program, Commercial Low Earth Orbit Development Program, Human Spaceflight Capabilities, and other associated resources.
Through Artemis, NASA will land the first woman and the first person of color on the Moon, paving the way for a long-term, sustainable lunar presence to explore more of the lunar surface than ever before and prepare for future astronaut missions to Mars, NASA said.