Four New Flight Directors Selected to Lead NASA’s Mission Control
Johnson Space Center, Houston
NASA has selected four new flight directors. J. Chris Edelen, David H. Korth, Courtenay R. McMillan and Emily J. Nelson will join a unique group of individuals that lead human space flights from Mission Control at NASA’s Johnson Space Center (JSC) in Houston.
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. Flight directors also are involved in developing plans for future Constellation Program exploration missions.
A flight director leads and orchestrates planning and integration activities with flight controllers, payload customers, station partners and others. All of the recently selected flight directors have previously served as flight controllers in Mission Control.
“These new flight directors are a fine example of how supporting mission operations for today’s human spaceflight endeavors builds the leaders for tomorrow’s missions,” said Phil Engelauf, chief of the Flight Director Office. “The four will begin with leading International Space Station operations, and when the time comes, they will be ready to lead missions back to the moon.”
This selection process began in February 2007. It brings to 32 the number of active space shuttle and space station flight directors, including those in training. Only 73 people have served as NASA flight directors, or are in training to do so, in the 40-plus years of human spaceflight.
-- J. Chris Edelen was born in Martinsville, Va. He earned a bachelor’s in aerospace engineering from Virginia Tech in 1989 and a master’s in physical sciences from the University of Houston in Clear Lake in 1994. Edelen has 13 years of experience as a Flight Dynamics Officer (FDO) supporting space shuttle trajectory operations at JSC. He has supported 34 shuttle missions in Mission Control, including ascent, entry, orbit and rendezvous flight phases. He began his work with NASA as an aerospace engineer for Rockwell Space Operations, and joined United Space Alliance (USA) when it formed in 1996. He was hired by NASA in 2003.
-- David H. Korth was born in Greenwich, Conn. He attended Memorial High School in Houston. Korth earned a bachelor’s in aerospace engineering from Texas A&M University in 1990 and is taking courses for a master’s in electrical engineering from the University of Houston. He began work at NASA in 1990 with Barrios Technology Inc. in the space station operations planning (Ops Plan) group and also worked with space shuttle mission planning. Korth was hired by NASA in 1998. Working on space station planning from the ground up, Korth’s experience includes being among the first of three individuals to achieve front room certification as an Ops Plan flight controller. He supported station Expeditions 1-14, and was the Ops Plan lead for Expeditions 1 and 7. He has served as Acting Group Lead of the Advanced Planning Group and Lead of the ISS Long Range Planning team. Since 2006, Korth has served as the Operations Division Technical Assistant in the Mission Operations Directorate at JSC.
-- Courtenay R. McMillan is from Winchester, Mass. She earned a bachelor’s in aerospace engineering from Pennsylvania State University in 1992. She began her career as a software engineer at Loral Advanced Distributed Simulation in Cambridge, Mass. She started work at NASA with USA in 1996 as an Attitude Determination and Control Officer (ADCO) for the space station. In 2001 she was hired by NASA and stationed in Moscow for two years as an Avionics Integration Engineer with the ISS Program. She returned to Houston, serving as the lead for the Station Systems Integration Office in the Systems Division of the Mission Operations Directorate at JSC. She most recently worked as a technical assistant in the EVA, Robotics and Crew Systems Division.
-- Emily J. Nelson was born in Okinawa, Japan. She earned a bachelor’s in mechanical engineering from the University of Texas in 1998. She began working at NASA with USA in 1998 as a Thermal Operations and Resources Officer (THOR) for the space station. She has supported operations for all space station expedition missions and several shuttle missions to assemble the complex, and served as the lead THOR for four expeditions and two assembly flights. She was USA group lead for thermal systems in 2003 and in 2004 she was hired by NASA to continue support to the space station and Constellation programs.
Images of the new flight directors are available online at:
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