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For release: 12/23/03
Release #: 03-218  

NASA names Space Shuttle External Tank project manager, deputy project manager and chief engineer

Photo description: Coleman, Reuter, Otte

NASA has named Sandra C. Coleman as the manager of the Space Shuttle External Tank Project office at the Marshall Center. James L. Reuter has been named the deputy manager and Neil E. Otte has been named chief engineer for the project office.

Photo: Sandra C. Coleman, James L. Reuter, Neil E. Otte (NASA/MSFC)


NASA has named Sandra C. Coleman as the manager of the Space Shuttle External Tank Project Office at the Agency's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala. Also in the External Tank Office, James L. Reuter has been named the deputy manager and Neil Otte, previously the deputy manager, has been named chief engineer.

Coleman and Reuter will be responsible for design, development, certification, testing and manufacturing of the External Tank. Otte will be responsible for assuring development and design efforts on the tank are planned and conducted on a sound engineering basis.

"The expertise and experience of these individuals continues to strengthen the overall Program as it moves closer to returning Space Shuttles to safe flight," said Bill Parsons, manager of the Space Shuttle Program.

The new managers will lead the work of more than 1,000 government and contractor employees involved in design and production of the External Tank, including those who build the tank at Lockheed Martin's Michoud Assembly Facility near New Orleans.

"It is imperative that we have strong leadership as we work to return the Space Shuttle safely to flight," said Mike Rudolphi, manager of the Space Shuttle Propulsion Office at the Marshall Center. "These three people have the commitment, the experience and the leadership skills necessary to be successful."

The External Tank is one of the four propulsion elements that boost the Space Shuttle into orbit during the first eight-and-a-half minutes of flight. The manufacturing, development and flight readiness of those four elements - the External Tank, Solid Rocket Boosters, Reusable Solid Rocket Motors and Main Engines - are the responsibility of the Marshall Center's Space Shuttle Propulsion Office.

Coleman has served as deputy manager of the Space Shuttle Propulsion Office since November 2002 and as interim manager twice during the past year. She previously worked in Marshall's Science Directorate, where she was the Chief Operating Officer of the National Space Science and Technology Center during its critical start-up period. The center unites government, industry and academia to further science and engineering research.

Coleman joined NASA in 1965, working in Marshall's Saturn program office and supporting the effort that launched Americans to the Moon. In 1969, she became a member of the Space Shuttle Task Team. From 1972 to 1997, Coleman served in three of the four Shuttle propulsion project offices in increasingly responsible positions, including integration subsystem manager in the Solid Rocket Booster Project, and the business, assistant and deputy manager positions in the Reusable Solid Rocket Motor Project. During that time, she also accepted a one-year special assignment in NASA Headquarters.

Coleman, the former Sandra Cooley, earned a master's degree in industrial engineering from the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa and a bachelor's degree in accounting from the University of Alabama in Huntsville. She has completed numerous training classes including a most recent Senior Managers in Government class at Harvard University.

Coleman has received numerous awards, including NASA's Outstanding Leadership Medal, Exceptional Service Medal and the Silver Snoopy Award, recognition given by NASA's astronaut corps to a select few individuals who have contributed to the success of human space flight missions.

Jim Reuter joined the External Tank Project Office in July 2003 as the lead engineer for systems integration, playing a key role in developing the strategy to certify the tank for its return to flight. Prior to assuming that position, he accepted a year-long assignment at NASA Headquarters in Washington, handling the day-to-day role of associate director for the Space Transportation Technology Division.

Reuter began his career with NASA at the Marshall Center in 1983 as an aerospace engineer with the Life Support and Environmental Branch of the Structures and Propulsion Laboratory. In 1994, he was chosen as system manager for the International Space Station's Environmental Control and Life Support System, being developed at Johnson Space Center in Houston. In 2000, Reuter was selected to lead the Marshall Center's efforts to bring the Space Station's Node 3 environmental control and life support system equipment from development to flight hardware status, readying it to fly.

Reuter is a graduate of the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis with a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering, and has attended the University of Alabama in Huntsville. The author of 12 technical aerospace papers, he has received numerous NASA honors and awards, including an Exceptional Service Medal and a Silver Snoopy Award.

Neil Otte joined the External Tank Project Office in September 1999, leading an engineering team responsible for strategic planning. He has served as chief engineer, and for the past year, as deputy manager for the project office.

Otte began his NASA career at the Marshall Center in 1987 as an aerospace engineer in the Structures and Dynamics Laboratory, Stress Analysis Branch. He worked on such projects as the National Launch System, the Heavy Lift Launch System, and served as the structures lead during the development of the Super Lightweight External Tank.

Before joining NASA, Otte worked six years as a diesel mechanic and assistant shop foreman with Donnellson/Tri-State Implement Inc., of Kahoka, Mo.

Otte is a graduate of Iowa State University in Ames, with a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering. He earned his master's degree in mechanical engineering at Auburn University in Auburn, Ala.

During his NASA career, Otte has received many honors, including being chosen as Space Flight Awareness honoree and recipient of the Agency's Exceptional Achievement Medal. He also has been recognized for redesign work on the Solid Rocket Booster and the design and certification of the Super Lightweight External Tank.


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