Mike Hawes, a former International Space Station chief engineer for NASA who is director of human spaceflight operations in Lockheed Martin’s Washington office, will take over as the company’s Orion Program vice president and program manager, replacing Cleon Lacefield, who is retiring.

The shift will be effective Aug. 1, according to the company. In his new role, Hawes will oversee Lockheed Martin’s prime contract to develop the next NASA human spaceflight vehicle, which is intended to take astronauts beyond low Earth orbit through a series of intermediate missions in the vicinity of the Moon and ultimately to the surface of Mars.

An initial flight test of the new human capsule – dubbed "Apollo on steroids" – is scheduled for December atop a modified Delta IV Heavy. That unmanned "experimental flight test-1 (EFT-1)" is designed to characterize the performance of the vehicle’s Avcoat heat shield and other parameters during ascent and a re-entry at speeds 80-85% of those it will experience returning from the Moon. Subsequent flights are scheduled to take Orion to distant retrograde orbit around the Moon in 2017 atop the first heavy-lift Space Launch System (SLS) to fly, and probably back to that orbit in 2021 with its first crew.

Hawes will be responsible for Orion operations at Lockheed Martin Space Systems near Denver; Orion engineering facilities in Houston; the Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans, and at Kennedy Space Center, where the EFT-1 test article is being prepared.

A company veteran who managed the NASA X-33 reusable launch vehicle prototype development program for the Lockheed Martin Skunk Works in the 1990s, Lacefield headed the team that won the NASA competition to develop the Orion Crew Exploration Vehicle in 2006 under the old Constellation Program. Orion survived termination of that program, and has continued to evolve as NASA’s post-shuttle human spacecraft.