James A. (Gene) Thomas
Former Deputy Director
Biographies - Former Employees
|James A. Thomas was appointed as Deputy Director of NASA's John F. Kennedy Space Center
on January 5, 1990. His duties are to assist the Center Director in management of the Kennedy
Born in Meridian, Mississippi, Thomas received his BSEE degree from Mississippi State
University in 1962, and was graduated from Florida State University with an MSM in Technical
Management in 1973.
Thomas, who goes by the nickname "Gene," joined NASA in 1962. From February 1987 to
January 1990, he was the Director of Safety, Reliability and Quality Assurance at KSC. He was
responsible for developing and implementing overall safety policy and procedures at KSC, and
related activities at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station and Vandenberg Air Force Base.
From September 1985 until December 1986, he served as Acting Director, and subsequently,
Director of Shuttle Launch and Landing Operations, holding the position of Launch Director for
Shuttle missions 51-J (STS-28) through 51-L (STS-33).
Between November 1977 and June 1983, Thomas was Lead Orbiter Flight Project Engineer for
OV 102, Columbia. In June, he became Chief, Shuttle Flight Project Engineer, Shuttle Engineering
Directorate, with overall responsibility for integration of all testing and checkout of Shuttle orbiters,
external tanks, and solid rocket booster flight hardware. He served in this position through August
During the Orbiter Vehicle 101 (Enterprise) Approach and Landing Tests conducted in 1976 and
1977 at Edwards Air Force Base, California, Thomas served as the Lead Flight Project Engineer
for KSC's ALT Engineering Team.
The team was responsible for the site activation of the orbiter hangar and Mate-Demate Device
(MDD) at NASA's Dryden Flight Research Facility in preparation for preflight servicing and
checkout of the Enterprise.
He served as lead engineer for prelaunch testing and checkout of communications systems on the
In 1981, Thomas received the NASA Exceptional Service Medal, the Outstanding Leadership
Medal in 1988, the NASA Meritorious Service Award in 1992, and in 1994, the NASA Equal
Employment Opportunity Medal.
Thomas and his wife, the former Juanita Purvis, live on Merritt Island, Florida. They have two
daughters, Karen and Wendy; a son, Chuck; and four grandchildren.