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New director shifts shuttle program staff

WASHINGTON — WASHINGTON - The new manager of the space shuttle program announced a series of personnel moves yesterday, the first major action of his tenure and the most significant shake-up since the Columbia accident.

William Parsons, who heads the shuttle program at Johnson Space Center in Houston, moved five people into new positions. He said the team will begin preparing for the recommendations of the independent board investigating the loss of Columbia on Feb. 1.

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"They are here to help me pull this program together and decide which direction this program needs to go in the future," said Parsons, who was named to the post in May and took full control last month.

Different outlook

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"I think with some of these new people coming in who have a different perspective on the program, one of the things we're going to be asking is, how could we have prevented this, and what are the things still out there?" Parsons said.

Under the changes announced yesterday:

* Wayne Hale becomes acting deputy manager of the shuttle program, a new position. Since February, he has been manager of launch integration at Kennedy Space Center. Before that, he was a flight director at Johnson.

* Steve Poulos was named acting manager of the orbiter project office, moving from the engineering directorate.

* Edward Mango becomes deputy manager of the orbiter project office. He had been the technical assistant to the shuttle program manager.

* John Shannon was named acting manager of flight operations and integration. After the Columbia accident, he was deputy director of the task force working with the Columbia Accident Investigation Board.

* John Muratore, previously assistant to the director of engineering, becomes manager of the systems integration office, replacing Lambert Austin.

Austin will remain with the program as a technical adviser.

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Other changes

Parsons said other changes will be made after the investigation board makes its report, expected late this month. One definite change, he said, is that the Mission Management Team, which oversees the shuttle during its flight, will be strengthened.

The team made several crucial decisions during Columbia's 16-day mission, including to accept an analysis that foam from the shuttle's external tank was not a danger to the orbiter. Investigators think the 1.67 pound chunk of foam created a hole in the left wing, allowing superhot gases to penetrate the wing during re-entry and destroy the shuttle.

The only departure from the shuttle program announced yesterday was that of Ralph Roe, chief engineer, who will move to Langley Research Center.

Roe will lead a new safety and engineering office that was announced last week by Sean O'Keefe, administrator of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

Gwyneth K. Shaw is a reporter for the Orlando Sentinel, a Tribune Publishing newspaper.


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