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Eileen Hawley
Johnson Space Center, Houston

James Hartsfield
Johnson Space Center, Houston

Dean Acosta
Headquarters, Washington
RELEASE : J05-055
NASA Names Former Astronaut New Johnson Center Director
Michael L. Coats has been named director of NASA's Johnson Space Center. Coats is a former astronaut, and he currently is vice president of Lockheed Martin Astronautics in Denver. He will become the ninth person to serve as director in the center's 44-year history.

"Mike Coats brings a perfect blend of experience to his new role as the head of the nation's primary center for human spaceflight development and operations," said NASA Administrator Michael Griffin. "As a former pilot and astronaut, and a long-time aerospace industry executive, he knows what our next generation of manned spacecraft must be able to do, and he knows what it takes to produce them. I'm delighted to welcome Mike back home to NASA."

Coats joined NASA in 1978 as a member of the first astronaut class specifically selected to fly the space shuttle. He flew three shuttle missions, the first as pilot for the maiden flight of Discovery in 1984. He commanded two subsequent shuttle missions, logging a total of more than 463 hours in space. Before joining NASA he was a distinguished U.S. Navy aviator. He logged more than 5,000 hours of flight time in 28 different types of aircraft. He retired from NASA and the Navy in August 1991.

"I look forward to returning to the Johnson Space Center, and I am honored by the trust Mike Griffin has shown in me," Coats said. "We will embrace the challenge of the new Constellation program that will take us first to the moon, and then on to Mars. At the same time, the contributions of the space shuttle and international space station will be critical steps in that journey and we remain committed to their success."

Coats replaces Jefferson D. Howell, Jr., who is on assignment as a visiting professor to the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas at Austin.

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