NASA is considering a plan to merge its space operations and human spaceflight mission directorates to better align with the U.S. space agency's manned spaceflight goals, according to NASA officials.

In a Dec. 20 memo to agency employees, the heads of NASA's Exploration Systems and Space Operations mission directorates said they had been tasked by NASA Administrator Charles Bolden to formulate a plan for combining the two organizations and report back to the agency chief in early 2011. [What Americans Plan in Space for 2011]

"With the upcoming retirement of the Space Shuttle and the likely transition away from the Constellation Program, planning is underway that could lead to NASA's Space Operations and Exploration Systems Mission Directorates merging to create a new directorate to manage the integrated human spaceflight portfolio for the Agency," wrote Doug Cooke and Bill Gerstenmaier, associate administrators for NASA's Exploration Systems Mission Directorate and Space Operations Mission Directorate, respectively.