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Michael Rudolphi to Lead NASA Marshall Space Flight Center's Engineering Directorate
Steve Roy
Marshall Space Flight Center, Huntsville, Ala.
(Phone: 256.544.0034)

News Release: 05-175

Michael Rudolphi Michael U. Rudolphi has been named director of the Engineering Directorate at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala. He assumes leadership of the organization responsible for the design, test, evaluation and operation of hardware and software associated with space transportation, spacecraft systems and science instruments, along with payloads under development at the Marshall Center.

The directorate also manages Marshall's Payload Operations Center. The center is the command post for scientific research experiments aboard the international space station -- the orbiting research complex being built some 200 miles above Earth by the United States and 15 other nations.

"Mr. Rudolphi's management and leadership experience uniquely qualify him for this important position," said Marshall Center Director David King.

From August 2003 until assuming his current position, Rudolphi served as deputy program manager for propulsion for the Space Shuttle Program and manager of the Shuttle Propulsion Office at the Marshall Center. In his previous position, Rudolphi was responsible 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.

Rudolphi led a team that performed a top-to-bottom assessment of the external tank following the STS-107 mission. Continued testing and improvements since space shuttle Discovery's launch in July are addressing tank foam insulation loss and will help further clarify the tank foam issues.

Rudolphi was interim director of NASA's Stennis Space Center in Mississippi from July to December 2003. He managed the rocket propulsion test program and also was responsible for the Applied Sciences Directorate, part of NASA's Earth Science Enterprise. He was appointed Stennis Center deputy director in December 2002.

In January 2000, Rudolphi was named manager of the reusable solid rocket motor project at the Marshall Center, where he was responsible for the design, manufacture and flight performance of the shuttle's solid rocket motors, which provide the more than 5.2 million pounds of thrust during launch.

Rudolphi served as manager of the solid rocket booster project in the Marshall Resident Office at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida from March 1999 to January 2000, and was chief engineer for the project beginning in May 1996.

Rudolphi began his NASA career at the Marshall Center in October 1988 as facility manager for the advanced solid rocket motor project in Iuka, Miss., with responsibility for design, construction and operation of an ultra-modern $700 million rocket manufacturing facility.

Before joining NASA, Rudolphi was a field engineering manager for five years at the Tennessee Valley Authority in Knoxville, Tenn.; served one year as a project engineer for Daniel International in Fulton, Miss.; and worked 11 years as a design engineering supervisor for TVA in Knoxville.

Rudolphi earned a bachelor's degree in 1971 and a master's in 1975 in civil engineering from the University of Tennessee in Knoxville. He is a Registered Professional Engineer in Tennessee, Alabama and Mississippi. He also is a graduate of the Senior Executive Fellowship Program at Harvard University in Boston.

Most recently, Rudolphi earned a Space Flight Awareness Leadership Award, presented to him in October. He has also been awarded the NASA Exceptional Achievement Medal in 1999 for his work with the solid rocket booster project and United Space Alliance Corp. of Houston and NASA Outstanding Leadership Medals in 2002, 2003 and 2004 for his management of the reusable solid rocket motor project, his work leading the recovery effort in east Texas following the loss of the Space Shuttle Columbia and her crew in 2003, and his leadership at the Stennis Center. In 1986, Rudolphi was inducted into the Athletic Hall of Fame at the University of Tennessee in Martin, where he played basketball for three years.

A native of Effingham, Ill, Rudolphi and his wife, the former Lavinia Ferguson of Hickman, Ky., have two sons and one grandson. The couple resides in Scottsboro, Ala.

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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