Johnson Space Center, Houston
Child of Apollo Era Becomes Chief of NASA Flight Directors
Growing up in the Midwest's Quad Cities area during the Apollo era, Jeff Hanley was captivated by the media coverage of every mission. Hanley spent hours pasting together scrapbooks and recreating the moonwalks on each flight in his backyard. With each mission, his passion for human spaceflight grew, eventually becoming his professional life's ambition.
In January, Hanley's career took a significant step up when he was appointed chief of the Flight Director Office at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston. Hanley now oversees an elite group of men and women called upon to direct space operations in Mission Control.
Only 58 people have served as flight directors in the 40-plus year history of human spaceflight; Hanley currently is in charge of 30 such individuals. He follows in the footsteps of the legendary Chris Kraft and Gene Kranz, who defined the role of the flight director during the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo missions. Milt Heflin, another veteran of the Apollo era, handed over the reins of chief to Hanley.
"Jeff brings a number of key traits to the table like solid knowledge of Space Shuttle and Space Station operations," Heflin said. "He has a great understanding of our international partnerships, serves as an excellent leader and has the capability to plan for the future of human spaceflight."
As chief flight director, Hanley represents some of the best and brightest that NASA and the nation have to offer.
"The current flight director team is not only engaged in returning the Space Shuttle to flight and planning the final missions to assemble the International Space Station, but they will also be a source of experience and leadership for future missions back to the Moon, Mars and beyond," Hanley said.
The Springfield, Ill., native hopes future generations of explorers can appreciate the incredible feat of space exploration.
"I remember watching the Apollo 16 launch on a color television at my grandmother's house in Peoria," Hanley said. "Perhaps in years to come, some kid will be similarly captivated by the first high-definition TV transmissions from the Moon in 3-D."
A flight director since 1996, Hanley is certified to lead flight control teams for both Space Shuttle and Space Station missions.
Hanley held the position of deputy chief for the Space Station Flight Director Office for two years before he was promoted to chief of the Flight Director Office. He has supported numerous Shuttle and Space Station missions, including as the lead flight director for the first Expedition to the Station. He was a flight director for two Hubble Space Telescope servicing missions. Before that, he worked as a payloads officer for numerous missions, including the first mission to service Hubble.
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