NASA has shaken up it leadership ranks as the Trump administration pushes the agency to return to the moon.

William Gerstenmaier, head of the agency's human exploration office, was suddenly demoted on Wednesday.

Gerstenmaier, who had been at the agency since 1977, had been working with Boeing and SpaceX as they develop spacecraft to ferry NASA astronauts to the International Space Station.

In an email obtained by CNET, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine told employees Wednesday that Gerstenmaier would become a special assistant to Jim Morhard, the deputy administrator.

"As you know, NASA has been given a bold challenge to put the first woman and the next man on the Moon by 2024, with a focus on the ultimate goal of sending humans to Mars," Bridenstine's email said.

"In an effort to meet this challenge, I have decided to make leadership changes to the Human Exploration and Operations (HEO) Mission Directorate."

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