An Indian-origin software and robotics engineer has been appointed as first head of American space agency NASA's newly-established Moon to Mars programme. With this programme, NASA plans to ensure a long-term presence on the Moon to prepare for humanity's next giant leap to the Red Planet. Mr Kshatriya will serve as first head of the office, with immediate effect, the agency said in a release on Thursday. This new office resides within the Exploration Systems Development Mission Directorate, reporting to its Associate Administrator Jim Free, it added.
"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," NASA Administrator Bill Nelson said in a statement. "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."
Functions like hardware development, mission integration and risk management will be a part of the programme. It will use Artemis missions at the Moon to open a new era of scientific discovery and prepare for human missions to Mars.
Mr Kshatriya began his career in the space programme in 2003, working as a software engineer, robotics engineer, and spacecraft operator primarily focused on the robotic assembly of the International Space Station (ISS).
In his new role, Mr Kshatriya will be responsible for programme planning and implementation for human missions to the Moon and Mars.
He has previously served as acting deputy associate administrator for Common Exploration Systems Development, providing leadership and integration across several of the programs that now fall within the new office.
Mr 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.