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New director at Kennedy Space Center

NASA said Friday it has named its ninth director of the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida. William Parsons, who managed the space shuttle program's return to space after the 2003 Columbia tragedy, will take over for James Kennedy, who is retiring.

NASA's Washington Administrator Michael Griffin, who appointed Parsons, applauded the move. "(Parson) is the right person to take Kennedy Space Center through the end of the shuttle era and into the era of lunar exploration."

Parsons, 49, joined the Kennedy Space Center in 1990 as a launch site support manager in shuttle operations. Six years later, he became manager of the office handling space station hardware integration. After 2003, he was responsible for making major modifications to the space shuttle's external fuel tanks after the Colombia accident. That helped get Discovery off the ground in 2005, despite the mission's failings when its outer foam broke off. Before taking over as Kennedy director, Parsons served as director of NASA's Stennis Space Center in Mississippi.

Parsons said he will lead NASA back to the moon. "I look forward to the future and being a part of completing the International Space Station and launching the vehicles that will take us back to the moon."