Another astronaut has left NASA to join the high-flying commercial space company, Space Exploration Technologies Corp.
NASA said Friday (March 4) that astronaut Garrett Reisman is leaving the space agency, and SpaceX quickly announced that Reisman is joining the Hawthorne, Calif., aerospace company. Reisman, 43, will assist SpaceX in preparing its Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon spacecraft to carry astronauts. Reisman, a mechanical engineer, will work on the development of human interfaces, including control, displays and space suits.
In December, SpaceX become the first commercial company to launch and recover an orbiting spacecraft. Dragon is competing to initially haul cargo to the International Space Station. The company hopes it will eventually be used to carry astronauts into low-Earth orbit.
Reisman is the second U.S. astronaut to join SpaceX, which was launched by PayPal founder Elon Musk. He joins former NASA astronaut Ken Bowersox, who now serves as vice president of astronaut safety at SpaceX.
Reisman most recently flew on the space shuttle last year and spent three months aboard the space station in 2008 as a flight engineer.
With the shuttle program winding down, it’s likely other astronauts could soon join the ranks of a growing list of commercial space companies competing with SpaceX to carry astronauts to orbit.