Two New Flight Directors Chosen to Lead NASA’s Mission Control
Kylie S. Clem|
Johnson Space Center, Houston
NASA has selected two new flight directors. Ron Spencer and Heather Rarick will join an elite group of individuals that lead human space flights from Mission Control at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston.
This year’s selection brings to 28 the number of active space shuttle and International Space Station flight directors, including those in training. Only 69 people have served as NASA flight directors, or are in training to do so, in the 40-plus years of human spaceflight.
“Ron and Heather are now part of a very impressive group that has really made a difference at NASA,” said Phil Engelauf, chief of the Flight Director Office. “Both of these individuals bring wide ranging experience and strengths to complement the Flight Director Office. They also possess the leadership skills necessary to ensure NASA accomplishes its near-term exploration goals of completing the space station, safely flying the shuttle through retirement and returning to the moon.”
Leading a team of flight controllers, support personnel and engineering experts, a flight director has the overall responsibility to manage and carry out shuttle flights and space station expeditions. A flight director also leads and orchestrates planning and integration activities with flight controllers, payload customers, station partners and others. The selection process began in February 2006.
-- Ron Spencer’s hometown is Decatur, Ill., where he was valedictorian at Stephen Decatur High School in 1985. Spencer served as a cooperative education student for the Central Intelligence Agency from 1986 to 1989. He earned a Bachelor of Science in aerospace engineering in 1989 from Texas A&M University. In 1990, he began working at Johnson Space Center as a shuttle timeline officer for Rockwell Space Operations Co. From 1992 to 1994 he developed the space station assembly sequence for the Space Station Program Office as a Booz Allen & Hamilton employee. In 1994, he became a NASA civil servant and served as group lead for NASA’s Stage Integration Team until 1996. In 1997, Spencer began working in Mission Control as a shuttle flight dynamics officer. As a shuttle flight controller he has supported 30 flights, nine as a flight dynamics officer. Spencer is also a certified private pilot and scuba diver.
-- Heather Rarick is from Pittsburgh, Pa. She earned a Bachelor of Science in aerospace engineering from Pennsylvania State University in 1987 and a master’s degree in business administration from the University of Houston-Clear Lake in 1992. Rarick began her career as an ascent flight design engineer for the space shuttle at Rockwell Space Operations Co. in Houston. She also supported Mission Control as a targeting operator for shuttle launch and ascents. Rarick continued her career with United Space Alliance, working for their chief information officer as a project manager. She returned to Mission Control in 1999 to work in the International Liaison Office as the operations lead and Russian interface officer. In 2001, Rarick began working for NASA in the same capacity but also took on the technical lead for the Russian interface officers. In 2003 she became chairperson of the Russian Joint Operations Panel, which works upcoming events and addresses long-term resolution of U.S./Russian operational issues.
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