Terrence W. Wilcutt was appointed NASA's chief of safety and mission assurance, effective Sept. 1, 2011. He succeeds Bryan O'Connor, who retired from the agency on Aug. 31, 2011.
Wilcutt is a retired Marine colonel and veteran astronaut who had served as director of safety and mission assurance at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston since 2008. In that position Wilcutt was tasked with the Safety Technical Authority of the programs and projects at JSC as well as JSC's Institutional Safety program.
As chief of safety and mission assurance, Wilcutt is responsible for the development, implementation and oversight of all safety and mission assurance policies and procedures for all NASA programs.
Wilcutt joined NASA in 1990 as an astronaut candidate and was accepted into the corps in 1991. He logged more than 1,007 hours in space as the pilot on two shuttle missions, STS-68 in 1994 and STS-79 in 1996, and commander of two others, STS-89 in 1998 and STS-106 in 2000. His technical assignments as an astronaut included work on space shuttle main engine and external tank issues; supporting shuttle launches and landings as a member of the astronaut support personnel team at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida; and technical issues for the Astronaut Office Operations Development Branch at Johnson.
Wilcutt also served as NASA director of operations at the Yuri Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center in Star City, Russia; and at Johnson as chief of the Astronaut Office Shuttle Operations Branch, manager of safety and mission assurance for the Space Shuttle Program, and deputy director of safety and mission assurance.
A native of Louisville, Ky., Wilcutt earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in math from Western Kentucky University in 1974. He taught high school math for two years before entering the Marine Corps in 1976 and earned his naval aviator wings in 1978.
From 1980 until 1983, he was stationed in Kaneohe, Hawaii, and flew F-4 Phantoms during two overseas deployments to Japan, Korea and the Philippines. For the next three years, he served as an F/A-18 fighter weapons and air combat maneuvering instructor while assigned to Squadron VFA-125 at Lemoore Naval Air Station in California. From 1986 until his selection by NASA, Wilcutt attended the United States Naval Test Pilot School and served as a test pilot and project officer for the Strike Aircraft Test Directorate of the Naval Aircraft Test Center in Patuxent River, Md., flying the F/A-18 Hornet, the A-7 Corsair II, the F-4 Phantom and other aircraft. He has more than 6,600 flight hours in more than 30 different aircraft.
Wilcutt has received numerous special honors, including NASA's Outstanding Leadership Medal, Distinguished Service Medal, Exceptional Service Medal and four space flight medals; the Distinguished Flying Cross; the Defense Superior Service and Meritorious Service medals; and the Navy Commendation Medal. He also has received the American Astronautical Society Flight Achievement Award; the V.M. Komarov Diploma, Federation Aeronautique Internationale space award for outstanding achievements in space exploration; and distinguished alumnus recognition and an honorary doctorate degree from Western Kentucky University.
Wilcutt maintains offices in Houston and Washington.