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NASA executive quits weeks after being named to lead moon initiative

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla., May 23 (Reuters) - A top NASA executive hired in April to guide strategy for returning astronauts to the moon by 2024 has resigned, the space agency said on Thursday, the culmination of internal strife and dwindling congressional support for the lunar initiative.

Mark Sirangelo, named six weeks ago as special assistant to NASA chief Jim Bridenstine, “has opted to pursue other opportunities,” Bridenstine said in a statement, after NASA’s new lunar exploration plan met a chilly reception on Capitol Hill.

Two sources familiar with the situation said Sirangelo was escorted out of NASA’s headquarters in Washington after his resignation. (Reporting by Joey Roulette at Cape Canaveral, Fla.; Additional reporting by Elizabeth Culliford in New York; Editing by Steve Gorman and Clarence Fernandez)