CAPE CANAVERAL - NASAshuffled shuttle program management Friday, sending its chief off to a newlycreated post and installing his deputy in the top spot.
Wayne Hale, who played apivotal role in NASA's recovery from the 2003 Columbia accident, willlead a new office responsible for developing strategies for a smooth transitionbetween shuttle and International Space Station operations and moon missions.
NASA plans to finish thestation and retire its aging shuttle fleet in 2010, a move that will triggersignificant job losses, including 2,500 to 3,500 at Kennedy Space Center,according to local government estimates.
A five-year hiatus in NASAhuman spaceflight is projected before the U.S. sends astronauts backto the moon by 2020.
A talented engineer who isconsidered articulate and inspirational, Hale will focus on communicating NASAtransition strategies to agency and contractor workers and the public.
"His eloquencecertainly lends to his credibility, and he has the credentials to deal withtransition activities and convey them as a representative of the agency,"NASA spokesman Kyle Herring said.
His replacement is JohnShannon, a former flight director who has been serving as deputy shuttleprogram manager.
"John Shannon iscompletely ready to take the reins in NASA's most critical program," Halesaid in a statement. "His leadership skills are well established, and theshuttle program will do well under his care."
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