updated 9/20/2005 6:23:03 PM ET 2005-09-20T22:23:03

NASA's deputy shuttle program manager has moved into the top spot, taking over from an ex-Marine who is now leading the space agency's hurricane recovery effort on the Gulf Coast.

Wayne Hale had been serving as acting program manager following the reassignment of Bill Parsons last week, and was named Tuesday as Parsons' permanent successor.

Hale, a mechanical engineer, has worked at NASA since 1978 and became a flight director 10 years later. He oversaw flight control teams at Mission Control in Houston for 40 shuttle missions, 28 of them for the critical launch and entry phases.

Parsons is now serving as director of Stennis Space Center near Bay St. Louis, Miss., which was struck by Hurricane Katrina. The Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans also endured damage.

The space shuttle fleet remains grounded while NASA figures out how to stop big pieces of foam insulation from breaking off the fuel tanks during liftoffs, a problem that led to Columbia's destruction in 2003 and reappeared during Discovery's July launch.

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