Kennedy Biographies

Text Size


Stephen J. Payne
NASA Shuttle Test Director
Launch and Landing Division

Stephen J. Payne is a NASA shuttle test director for the Launch and Landing Division at NASA's Kennedy Space Center. He is one of two NASA test directors responsible for leading the shuttle launch team during the planning, scheduling and execution of the shuttle launch countdown.

Payne brings a wealth of experience to the launch team. After graduating from college, he joined the U.S. Navy and became a Naval aviator, flying the F-14 Tomcat. He came to Kennedy Space Center in 1990 as a payload operations engineer for Lockheed Space Operations Company. A year later, he was hired by NASA to coordinate space shuttle cargo installation, testing and removal. In 1994, he was assigned to the Flight Crew Operations Directorate, supporting the Astronaut Office as a member of the Vehicle Integration Test Team.

Payne has been a NASA test director since 1996, and has been involved with mission processing and launch for more than 39 shuttle missions. He is a qualified ground operations manager and has supported landing operations at White Sands Space Harbor in New Mexico and at trans-Atlantic abort landing sites in Spain and Morocco. He has held positions as tanking test director and as lead NASA test director. He was selected to be shuttle test director in 2005.

In addition to his regular duties at Kennedy, Payne has also been a mentor for high school students, a guest science teacher at various elementary schools, a science fair judge, an advisor for the FIRST robotics competition and a speaker with the Kennedy Space Center speakers bureau. He also holds the rank of Captain in the Navy Reserve and is Commanding Officer of a reserve unit in Tampa, Fla.

A native of San Juan, Puerto Rico, Payne graduated from Colegio San José (Saint Joseph high school) in 1978. He holds a Bachelor of Science in mechanical engineering from Syracuse University and a Master of Science in engineering management from the University of Central Florida. He lives in Orlando with his wife, Olga, and their two children, Rachel and Eric.

February 2008

Biographies - Current Employees