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NASA names Space Exploration Panel leader

The director of a Florida research center will lead a study to help NASA determine how to conduct future space exploration, including President Bush’s initiative for manned flights to the moon and Mars.

Ken Ford, whose Institute for Human and Machine Cognition focuses on how to make computers and other machines more useful and user-friendly, will chair the $592,000, nine-month study, NASA said.

Researchers will examine technologies and types of materials that could be used on future space missions, rocket propulsion and communications, said Ford, who also serves on the National Science Board and is a former associate director at NASA’s Ames Research Center at Moffett Field.

Ford said he was finalizing other members of the study panel, which will include about a dozen high-profile scientists and engineers from around the world.