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Sean O'Keefe, who became NASA administrator in December 2001, submitted his resignation on 13 December 2004. O'Keefes departure comes after the agency has begun to implement its new Vision for Space Exploration. He leaves NASA on good fiscal footing, with a fiscal year 2005 budget of $16.2 billion.

However, U.S. Rep. Bart Gordon (D-Tenn.), the ranking member of the House of Representatives Science Committee, said the next administrator must deal with “reconciling the agency's goals with the constrained budgets it is likely to be facing in the years ahead.”