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NASA Ousts Constellation Program Manager

WASHINGTON? Jeff Hanley, the top manager of NASA?s marked-for-cancellation Constellationprogram at the Johnson Space Center (JSC) in Houston, has stepped down tobecome associate director for strategic capabilities at JSC, according to NASAofficials.

Inhis newposition, Hanley will be tasked with retaining ?as many of JSC?s human space flight core competencies as possibleduring the Constellation transition and [space shuttle] phase out,? NASAspokeswoman Lynnette Madison told SpaceNews May 26. Madison said Dale Thomas, currently the deputy programmanager for Constellation, will serve as acting program manager.

"I'vebeen advised by [headquarters] that my services as [Constellation programmanager] are no longer required, effective immediately," Hanley wrote in aMay 26 e-mail sent to the Constellation program's senior staff. "DaleThomas will be Acting PM until something more formal is issued from [NASAExploration Systems Mission Directorate]."

NASAAdministrator CharlesBolden, who was testifying before the House Science and TechnologyCommittee when Hanely's e-mail went out, was asked by Rep. Gabrielle Giffords(D-Ariz.) during the hearing whether it was true the program manager had beenremoved from his post.

"Thatis probably correct," Bolden replied. "It is not an action that Itook. It was an action taken by the Exploration Mission Directorate head DougCooke and the Johnson Space Center Director Mike Coats. I have been in consultationwith them about that. My understanding is that they were to get together withhim this morning."

NASAhas spent about $10 billion on Constellation, a 5-year-old effort to replacethe retiring space shuttle with new rockets and spacecraft optimized for lunarmissions. NASA proposed canceling Constellation in its 2011 budget request,though the agency is currently refining aplan to continue development of the Orion Crew Exploration Vehicle ? a keycomponent of Constellation ? for use as an emergency lifeboat at theinternational space station.

Boldentold the House Science and Technology Committee during the May 26 hearing thatNASA would spend about $4.5 billion on the restructured Orion program.

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