updated 9/12/2006 1:28:56 PM ET 2006-09-12T17:28:56

NASA has named William Parsons, a veteran manager who led the space shuttle program's return to flight after the 2003 Columbia accident, to run the Kennedy Space Center launch site.

Parsons, 49, will become director of Kennedy Space Center in January 2007, replacing James W. Kennedy, who is retiring. Kennedy, 57, has been director of the launch center since June 2003. Parsons is the deputy director at Kennedy and before that was twice the director of the Stennis Space Center in Mississippi.

After working as an aerospace engineer at Cape Canaveral Air Station, Parsons got his start with NASA at Kennedy Space Center in 1990. He has worked at high-level positions at Stennis and the Johnson Space Center in Houston.

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