Portrait of Richard Christiansen National Aeronautics and Space Administration
John H. Glenn Research Center
Lewis Field
Cleveland, Ohio 44135

Richard S. Christiansen

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Richard S. Christiansen serves as the Deputy Director at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's John H. Glenn Research Center. He assumed this position on November 16, 2003. He shares with the Center Director responsibility for planning, organizing, and directing the activities required in accomplishing the missions assigned to the Center. Glenn is engaged in research, technology and systems development programs in aeronautical propulsion, space propulsion, space power, space communications, and microgravity sciences.

Prior to becoming the Deputy Director, Christiansen served as the Associate Director for Planning at NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center and was responsible for overseeing the development of the Center's long-range strategic management plan and creating a vision for the future of flight research. He held that position from July 2000 to November 2003.

From October 1998 to June 2000, Christiansen held the position of Director of Programs, Aerospace Technology Enterprise, at NASA Headquarters. He was responsible for strategic management of all Enterprise programs planned and conducted for national and Agency goals in aeronautics and space transportation.

Christiansen began his NASA career at NASA's Ames Research Center in 1980. At Ames, he was responsible for conducting systems analysis and large-scale aerodynamic and propulsion wind tunnel tests of subsonic vertical or short take-off and landing (V/STOL) concepts. In 1986, Christiansen began his work at NASA Headquarters, where he served as a division director or program manager in several organizations. From 1997 to 1998, he served as acting associate administrator of the Aeronautics and Space Transportation Technology Enterprise.

His aerospace career started in 1978 with General Dynamics during his senior year at California State Polytechnic University in Pomona, Calif. While there, he conducted wind tunnel tests and analyses on various missile designs for the U.S. Navy. Following graduation, he also was a part-time lecturer for freshman aerospace engineering classes at Cal Poly.

Christiansen earned a bachelor of science degree in aerospace engineering in 1979 from California State Polytechnic University, Pomona and a master's degree in aeronautics and astronautics from Stanford University in 1985. He is an Associate Fellow of AIAA and has served on numerous committees. Christiansen is the author of nine papers on V/STOL aerodynamics and missile aerodynamics.

Christiansen has received numerous awards during his NASA career, including two Exceptional Performance Awards in 1989 and 1993; a Superior Accomplishment Award in 1992; two Group Achievement Awards, one in 1990 for his work on the United States and United Kingdom ASTOVL Joint Assessment and Ranking Team and one in 1992 for Flight Research Strategy. In 1998 he received the Presidential Rank of Meritorious Executive for his sustained superior accomplishments in program management since he became a member of the Senior Executive Service in 1994; and in1999 he received the NASA Outstanding Leadership Medal. In 2003 he received his second Presidential Rank of Meritorious Executive for his work at NASA Dryden.


  1. Christiansen retired from NASA on May 31, 2007.