|Brian Welch January 10, 1994|
ABBEY NAMED JSC DEPUTY DIRECTOR; WEITZ TO RETIRE IN APRIL
George W.S. Abbey was named Deputy Director of the Johnson Space Center (JSC), Houston, today by the new center Director Dr. Carolyn L. Huntoon.
Abbey succeeds Paul J. "P.J." Weitz, who will serve as the Acting Associate Director during the transition of the new center management team until his planned retirement in April. Weitz has served as the center's Deputy Director since 1987 and Acting Director since the retirement of Aaron Cohen in August 1993.
"I am pleased to welcome George Abbey back to JSC in a role that will capitalize on his unique experience and organizational skills," Huntoon said. "With the upcoming retirement of P.J. Weitz, George has large shoes to fill, but he brings a wealth of expertise to the job, and his insights will be invaluable as the JSC team meets the challenges ahead of us in the 1990s."
Abbey is a 1954 graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy who went on to become a U.S. Air Force pilot in the late 1950s. While serving as an Air Force officer from 1959 to 1964, he was involved in the Air Force DYNASOAR program. He was detailed to the Johnson Space Center (then the Manned Spacecraft Center) in 1964 and resigned his commission to become a member of the civil service staff in 1967. In January of that year, he became technical assistant to Apollo Program Manager George M. Low.
In 1969, Abbey became technical assistant to Robert Gilruth, the Director of the Manned Spacecraft Center. In 1976, he became Director of Flight Operations, responsible for planning and overall direction of flight crews and flight control activities for all U.S. human space flights. In a 1985 reorganization, Abbey became Director of the newly formed Flight Crew Operations Directorate, responsible for management and direction of flight crews as well as the center's fleet of aircraft.
In 1988, Abbey was named Deputy Associate Administrator for Space Flight, NASA Headquarters, Washington, D.C. He most recently served as Special Assistant to NASA Administrator Daniel S. Goldin.
Weitz, who plans to retire in April 1994, will serve as Acting Associate Director of JSC until his retirement. He has been a NASA astronaut since 1966 and has logged a total of 793 hours in space on two space flights. Weitz received his commission as an ensign in the U.S. Navy through the Naval ROTC program at Pennsylvania State University before earning his pilot wings in 1956. He served in various naval squadrons until he was selected as an astronaut in 1966. He has logged more than
7,700 hours flying time, with 6,400 hours in jet aircraft.
Weitz, one of 19 astronauts selected in the class of 1966, served as pilot on the crew of Skylab-2 from May 25 to June 22, 1973. Skylab-2 was the first flight of astronauts to the orbital workshop, and the crew logged 672 hours and 49 minutes aloft, establishing what was then a new world record for a single space mission. During that flight, Weitz also logged 2 hours and 11 minutes of spacewalk time in a dramatic repair of
mechanisms that had been damaged during the launch of Skylab on May 14, 1973.
His second space flight was as the Commander of STS-6, the maiden voyage of the Space Shuttle Challenger in April 1983. During the mission, the crew deployed the first Tracking and Data Relay Satellite, conducted the first spacewalk of the Shuttle era and performed numerous experiments in materials processing. The mission duration was 120 hours.
Weitz has been awarded the NASA Distinguished Service Medal, the Navy Distinguished Service Medal, the Robert J. Collier Trophy for 1973, the Robert H. Goddard Memorial Trophy for 1975 and the NASA Space Flight Medal.
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