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August 28, 2012
RELEASE J12-016
NASA Astronaut Robert Behnken Named Chief of the Astronaut Office

HOUSTON – NASA's Director of Flight Crew Operations Janet Kavandi has named Air Force Col. Robert L. Behnken as the chief of the Astronaut Office. Behnken replaces Peggy A. Whitson, who has held the position since October 2009. "Peggy was an outstanding chief astronaut and we are thankful for her leadership," Kavandi said. "She voluntarily stepped down to refocus on her International Space Station training and to become eligible for future crew assignments."

In his new role, Behnken will be responsible for managing Astronaut Office resources, operations and safety programs. During this innovative time, he will also help develop astronaut flight crew operation concepts and crew assignments for future spaceflight missions.

"Bob is a highly dedicated professional who understands the challenges that this office holds," Kavandi said. "He has an excellent reputation both inside and outside the Astronaut Office."

Behnken earned Bachelor of Science degrees in physics and mechanical engineering from Washington University in 1992, and a Master of Science and a doctorate in mechanical engineering from the California Institute of Technology in 1993 and 1997, respectively.

Selected as a mission specialist by NASA in July 2000, Behnken reported for training in August 2000. Following the completion of 18 months of training and evaluation, he was assigned technical duties in the Astronaut Office Space Shuttle Branch supporting launch and landing activities at Kennedy Space Center, Fla. Behnken flew on board shuttle missions STS-123 in March 2008 and STS-130 in February 2010, logging more than 708 hours in space, including more than 37 hours during six spacewalks. During the fall of 2008, he trained as a mission specialist for STS-400, the rescue flight for the last Hubble Servicing Mission. Before his appointment to this role, Behnken served as deputy chief of the Astronaut Office.

For Behnken's complete biography, visit:

http://www.jsc.nasa.gov/Bios/htmlbios/behnken-rl.html

For Whitson's complete biography, visit:

http://www.jsc.nasa.gov/Bios/htmlbios/whitson.html

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Jay Bolden
Johnson Space Center, Houston
(281) 483-5111

Josh Buck
Headquarters, Washington
(202) 358-1100

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