Former astronaut Fred Gregory is poised to become NASA deputy administrator after the appointment of another former Space Shuttle pilot-commander, Bryan O'Connor, to Gregory's former post of associate administrator for the office of safety and mission assurance.

O'Connor left his NASA job as director of the Space Shuttle programme in Washington DC in 1996 over safety concerns, which he felt were not being addressed.

The NASA deputy's job was to have been taken by another Shuttle pilot-commander, Charles Bolden, a US Marine Corps brigadier general, but since 11 September he has worked on security issues. Some Congress members have also objected to a serving officer being posted to such an important NASA job.

Source: Flight International