Gen. Eugene Tattini

Gen. Eugene Tattini has served as deputy director of JPL for the past 12 years. He will leave the lab on Sept. 20. and U.S. Air Force Lt. Gen. Larry D. James will take over the position on Sept. 23. (Courtesy of NASA/JPL / September 18, 2013)

A longtime official at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in La Cañada Flintridge will retire at the end of the month, the agency announced Wednesday.

Gen. Eugene Tattini has served as deputy director of JPL for the past 12 years. He will leave the lab on Sept. 20. U.S. Air Force Lt. Gen. Larry D. James will take over the position on Sept. 23.

“We owe our gratitude to General Tattini for his dedication and contributions during the past 12 years, which were filled with numerous successful spacecraft launches and milestones, including the landing of the Mars rover Curiosity,” JPL Director Charles Elachi said in a statement.

Tattini, who resides in Glendale, was commander of the U.S. Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center before arriving at JPL.

In a statement, Tattini said it was a “privilege” working for JPL and he has seen the lab’s employees “perform magic.”

“I continue to be in awe of them,” he stated.

The deputy director helps to manage JPL’s daily activities and resources and acts as a chief operating officer, according to JPL.

James, a resident of Altadena, has a master’s degree in astronautical engineering from MIT and has held positions at the USAF Space and Missile Systems Center and the Vandenberg Air Force base.

In a statement, James said he was excited to join JPL. “As someone who has loved space exploration since I was a kid, there’s no better place to be.”

-- Tiffany Kelly, tiffany.kelly@latimes.com

Follow on Google+ and on Twitter: @LATiffanyKelly.

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