Goddard Names New Science and Technology Deputy Dir.
Orlando Figueroa Orlando Figueroa is Goddard's new deputy director for science and technology. Credit: NASA/Goddard
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Goddard Center Director Rob Strain has named Orlando Figueroa as the deputy center director for science and technology, filling a critical position at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. Figueroa will formulate future science and technology goals, and lead an integrated program of investments aligned to meet those goals. Figueroa's new job is effective immediately, and fills the position recently held by Dr. Laurie Leshin, who was named the deputy associate administrator for the Exploration Systems Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters last month. Figueroa had served as the director for Goddard's Applied Engineering and Technology Development Directorate since August 2005.

A senior executive since 1996, Figueroa has an outstanding record of accomplishments in the planning, design, development and oversight of multi-faceted scientific space missions. Throughout his career, he has worked with national and international government and non-government organizations, and is highly respected as a strategist and director of scientific systems and technology.

As the director of Applied Engineering and Technology Development, Figueroa led the center’s largest directorate. Prior to being named AETD director, Figueroa worked at NASA Headquarters as the deputy associate administrator for programs in the Science Mission Directorate, where he was responsible for ensuring that flight programs and projects were organized and conducted consistently with directorate and agency policies. While there, he also managed complex multi-project programs with total budgets in excess of $4 billion.

During the first part of his career, Orlando spent 22 years at Goddard, holding a variety of key positions that included: head, Cryogenics Technology Section; lead cryogenic engineer, Cryogenic Optical Assembly of the Cosmic Background Explorer; manager, Superfluid Helium On Orbit Transfer Shuttle Experiment; manager, Small Explorers project; manager, Explorers Program; and director, Systems Technology and Advanced Concepts Directorate.

Figueroa left Goddard in February 2000 to serve as the deputy chief engineer for Systems Engineering. He was subsequently named director for Mars Exploration in the Office of Space Science, and director for Solar System Exploration, also in the Office of Space Science.

Figueroa was born in San Juan, Puerto Rico. In 1978, he received a B.S. in mechanical engineering from the University of Puerto Rico, Mayaguez Campus, and he later completed advanced courses in mechanical engineering at the University of Maryland.