NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine knowledgeable employee agency in a memo Wednesday night NASA veteran Bill Gerstenmaier does not lead to Human Exploration and Operations Mission Director.
Instead, Bridenstine said, Gerstenmaier will serve as special assistant to Deputy NASA Administrator Jim Morhard.
Gerstenmaier was expelled from his office hours after he witnessed in front of Congress on the future of the International Space Station and plans for low-Earth orbit.
In his memo, Bridenstine said that reassignment is trying to meet the purpose of sending a man and first woman to the moon over the next five years.
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the Washington Post reported that the shakeup in the leadership came as Vice President Mike Pence and other White House officials emphasized the lack of agency progress and issued their complaints to Bridenstine at a recent expiration up.
Public officials also stressed that there was a tension between Bridenstine and Gerstenmaier.
Bridenstine told the Post in an interview Thursday that the decision was his alone – not the White House "at all." He also denied tensions between them and told the Post that he was thinking of "extremely high" of Gerstenmaier.
CNN reaches a spokeswoman for Bridenstine.
Two top House Democrats accepted Bridenstine's decision to remove Gerstenmaier from his
Gerstenmaier started his career in NASA in 1977 making aeronautical research. In his long career career, he managed the International Space Station and also taught the safe completion of at least 21 space shuttle missions.
The Democratic chairwoman of the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology said he was "baffled" by Bridenstine's decision to demote Gerstenmaier without a permanent substitute to fill the paper.
"The Trump Administration of the well-defined crash program with the Earth's astronauts in the Moon in 2024 will be challenging enough to achieve under the best conditions," Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson of Texas in a statement. "The removal of experienced engineering leadership from that effort and the other public spaceflight programs of the country at such an important point in time seems to be wrong."
Rep. Kendra Horn of Oklahoma, chairman of the subcommittee on House of Space and Aeronautics, said he was "worried about the effects that changes in the sudden leadership of our country's space flight programs may be have "at a time when they try the Space Launch System and Orion spacecraft to help crew reach the moon.
Vice President Mike Pence announced in March that the Trump administration wants to speed up NASA plans to reach the moon – launching the mission in 2024, instead of 2028.  "If current NASA is capable of landing the American astronauts on the Moon for five years, we need to change the organization, not the mission, "says Pence.
The new timeline provides NASA only five years to get the hardware and funds it needs.
Bridenstine told CNN Business in June that NASA needed an estimated $ 20 billion to $ 30 billion over the next five years for this month's Artemis project.
NASA's hardware requirements may be delayed, way over budget or nothing else.
The Artemis mission can send people over the moon for the first time in half a century.
Jackie Watts and Rachel Crane of CNN have contributed to this report.