(Bloomberg) -- NASA is splitting its human exploration operations into two as it prepares for a new era of deep-space journeys to the moon and Mars over the next few decades.

The agency plans to separate the Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate into two areas, allowing greater focus on the unique challenges of serving the International Space Station and journeying farther out. NASA said in a statement Tuesday that the move was spurred by “increasing space operations in low-Earth orbit and development programs well underway for deep-space exploration.”

Jim Free, a former director of NASA’s Glenn Research Center in Cleveland who left the agency in 2017, will direct the new Exploration Systems Development Mission Directorate. Kathy Lueders, the current associate administrator for human exploration, will oversee a Space Operations Mission Directorate.

Free “will own the architecture” of how NASA plans to progress deeper into the solar system, and manage the growth of the agency’s ambitions in human exploration, Deputy Administrator Pam Melroy told employees at a town hall meeting.

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration began plotting a return to the moon during the Trump administration, with a target of 2024. President Joe Biden has continued those efforts, though the 2024 date isn’t likely to be met given delays with various NASA programs, including Boeing Co.’s Space Launch System rocket.

Lueders will continue to oversee NASA’s efforts in low-earth orbit, including the International Space Station and the commercial crew program, the transport service that uses SpaceX and Boeing for astronaut transport to and from the station.

“I keep thinking two heads is better than one and this is going to be a lot of fun,” Lueders said.

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