WASHINGTON — Kate Kronmiller, the former vice president of Washington operations for space shuttle prime contractor United Space Alliance (USA), is taking over as Orbital Sciences Corp.’s top lobbyist, industry sources said.

Kronmiller’s appointment as Orbital’s vice president of government relations was expected to be announced the week of Oct. 10, sources said.

Kronmiller joined Houston-based USA in 1997 and was put in charge of the company’s Washington operations in 2001. She left the company Aug. 25, USA spokeswoman Kari Fluegel said in an Oct. 7 email to Space News. USA has downsized dramatically since NASA began winding down the space shuttle program.

Attempts to reach Kronmiller Oct. 7 were not successful.

Kronmiller will fill a vacancy at Orbital left by Mark Bitterman, who in September joined United Launch Alliance of Denver after a brief detour as head of Washington operations for Space Exploration Technologies Corp. (SpaceX). Bitterman quit SpaceX in late August, less than two months after joining the company. He resigned from Orbital in June after 19 years with the Dulles, Va.-based satellite and rocket builder.

Dan Leone is a SpaceNews staff writer, covering NASA, NOAA and a growing number of entrepreneurial space companies. He earned a bachelor’s degree in public communications from the American University in Washington.