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Robert M. Lightfoot Jr. Selected to Lead Space Shuttle Propulsion Office at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center
Martin Jensen
Marshall Space Flight Center, Huntsville, Ala.
(Phone: 256.544.0034)

News Release: 05-174

Robert M. Lightfoot Jr. Robert M. Lightfoot Jr. has been named manager of the Space Shuttle Propulsion Office at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala. He assumes responsibility for the manufacture, assembly and operation of the primary shuttle propulsion elements: the main engines, external tank, solid rocket boosters and reusable solid rocket motors.

Lightfoot succeeds Michael Rudolphi, who had served in the position since 2003 and was recently assigned to lead the Marshall Center's Engineering Directorate.

Mr. Lightfoot's management and leadership experience make him uniquely qualified to assume this important position," said Marshall Center Director David King. "He has a strong technical background, extensive experience in program management, and a long history of supporting the Space Shuttle Program."

Lightfoot has served since July 2003 as assistant associate administrator for the Space Shuttle Program in the Office of Space Operations at NASA Headquarters in Washington. His responsibilities included space shuttle Return to Flight activities, budget formulation and integration of shuttle infrastructure into the Vision for Space Exploration, the initiative calling for future exploration of the moon, Mars and beyond. Other responsibilities included providing technical advice and recommendations on readiness and execution of the shuttle program, with a budget oversight of more than $3 billion.

Lightfoot began his NASA career at the Marshall Center in 1989 as a test engineer and program manager for the space shuttle main engine technology test bed program and the Russian RD-180 engine testing program for the Atlas launch vehicle program. In 1998, he was named deputy division chief of the Marshall Center's propulsion test division.

In 1999, he joined NASA's Stennis Space Center in Bay St. Louis, Miss., as chief of propulsion test operations, managing space shuttle main engine testing and multiple NASA, Department of Defense and industry rocket engine test programs.

Lightfoot was named deputy director of the Stennis Propulsion Test Directorate and in 2001 appointed to the Senior Executive Service, the personnel system that covers most of the top managerial, supervisory and policy positions in the executive branch of the government. He was named director in 2002, responsible for propulsion test facility assets valued at more than $2 billion. He managed more than 100 employees responsible for a wide range of propulsion testing.

During his NASA career, Lightfoot has received numerous awards, including a Silver Snoopy Award, a Space Flight Leadership Award and a NASA Exceptional Achievement Medal.

A native of Montevallo, Ala., Lightfoot received a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering in 1986 from the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa.

Lightfoot and his wife, Caroline, and their two children, Kelsey and Haley, live in Huntsville.

For supporting materials for this news release -- such as photographs, fact sheets, video and audio files and more -- please visit the NASA Marshall Center Newsroom Web site at:

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