NASA moves forward in manned spaceflight

Aug. 12, 2011 at 8:31 PM

WASHINGTON, Aug. 12 (UPI) -- NASA says it has created a new department, the Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate, to oversee manned spaceflight in the post-shuttle era.

The department combines two previous arms of the space agency, the Space Operations Directorate and the Exploration Systems Mission Directorate.

NASA is preparing for human missions to deep space -- including trips to the moon, then on to asteroids and Mars -- with President Barack Obama having given the agency the goal of putting men on the Red Planet by the mid 2030s, reported Friday.

"American is opening a bold new chapter in human space exploration," NASA Administrator Charles Bolden said in a statement. "By combining the resources of Space Operations and Exploration Systems, and creating the Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate, we are recommitting ourselves to American leadership in space for years to come."

Associate Administrator Bill Gerstenmaier, who previously served as the associate administrator for Space Operations, will head the new office, NASA said.

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