NASA has selected a new head for its human exploration directorate, a critical role in shaping the agency's Artemis program as it targets 2024 for its next crewed mission to the surface of the moon.

Douglas Loverro, a veteran of the Department of Defense and National Reconnaissance Office, was selected on Wednesday to serve as the new associate administrator for the Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate, according to News 6 partner Florida Today. He replaces former astronaut Ken Bowersox, who was serving in the position in an interim role.

"I worked with Doug for many years on the Hill, and he is a respected strategic leader in both civilian and defense programs, overseeing the development and implementation of highly complicated systems," NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said in a release on Wednesday.

"He is known for his strong, bipartisan work and his experience with large programs will be of great benefit to NASA at this critical time in our final development of human spaceflight systems for both Commercial Crew and Artemis."

Loverro ultimately replaces Bill Gerstenmaier, a more than 40-year veteran of NASA who was abruptly removed from his position in July. At the time, Bridenstine cited the 2024 moon program as the primary reason for the shakeup, Florida Today reported.

Bowersox will fall back to his previous position as deputy associate administrator.