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NASA Engineer, Tennessee Native Rick Burt Named to Senior Executive Service
Kim Newton
Marshall Space Flight Center, Huntsville, Ala.
(Phone: 256.544.0034)

News Release: 06-120

Rick Burt Rick Burt, manager of the Ares I First Stage in the Exploration Launch Projects Office at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., has been appointed to the federal government's Senior Executive Service.

The Senior Executive Service is the personnel system covering top managerial positions in approximately 75 federal agencies.

"I am honored to serve NASA and the government in the Senior Executive Service position," said Burt. "This appointment is the culmination of many years of leadership development and mentoring by proven successful leaders, and being given the opportunity to learn by managing challenging projects."

Burt has served in his current position since September 2005. He leads the design, development, testing and evaluation of the first stage propulsion element for Ares I, the launch vehicle that will carry the Orion crew exploration vehicle and its astronauts to space.

The Exploration Launch Projects Office at Marshall has overall responsibility for developing the Ares I and Ares V launch vehicles -- keys to NASA's exploration goals to return humans to the moon and travel to Mars and beyond. The heavy-lifting Ares V will deliver the lunar lander, large hardware and other resources to space.

"The Ares I first stage element plays a critical role in development of the crew launch vehicle and NASA's exploration goals," said Burt. "Our hardware is the ‘backbone' of the launch vehicle as it sits on the pad, and also provides the power for lift off.

"This is an exciting and challenging opportunity for the team -- to build a safe and reliable propulsion system for one of NASA's next-generation launch vehicles. We are focused on a common objective: developing Ares I to enable NASA's vision to explore, expand our knowledge and enrich the lives of future generations," he added.

Ares I's first stage, a five-segment solid rocket booster powered by a reusable solid rocket motor, provides the main thrust for the launch vehicle. It's a propulsion component Burt is very familiar with.

From 2000 to 2005, he was chief engineer for the space shuttle's Reusable Solid Rocket Motor Project, responsible for evaluating technical aspects of the shuttle's reusable solid rocket motors, including design, manufacturing and testing. He also led technical reviews in preparation for the shuttle's return to flight in 2005. From 1999 to 2000, Burt was deputy manager for the project, assisting in overall project management, including the production, prime contractor performance evaluation and flight readiness of the rocket motor system.

He was deputy manager from 1998 to 1999 for the Space Shuttle Projects Office, overseeing and coordinating program management interfaces for the development, testing, flight hardware production and performance evaluation of all shuttle propulsion elements: the main engines, reusable solid rocket motors, solid rocket boosters and external tank.

From 1997 to 1998, he was technical assistant to the project manager of the Reusable Solid Rocket Motor Project. He managed key technical activities, including environmental compliance and obsolescence issues. He served from 1996 to 1997 as business manager for the project, handling budget development and financial reporting, and serving as the primary interface between Marshall and the project's prime contractors, industry partners and NASA space shuttle program-level officials.

Burt first came to NASA in 1990 as an enhancement manager of the Reusable Solid Rocket Motor Project at Marshall. He oversaw the implementation of a NASA investment effort to modernize and upgrade solid rocket motor production facilities.

Prior to his NASA career, Burt worked for 12 years in various leadership positions with the Tennessee Valley Authority's Nuclear Power Program at Browns Ferry Nuclear Plant in Athens, Ala.; Watts Bar Nuclear Power Plant in Spring City, Tenn.; and Hartsville Nuclear Plant near Nashville, Tenn.

Burt has received numerous NASA awards and honors. In 2005, he received the NASA Outstanding Leadership Medal for his chief engineering work in support of shuttle return to flight efforts. He was honored in 1997 with a Silver Snoopy Award – given by NASA's Astronaut Corps in recognition of outstanding contributions to the space program -- for supporting the shuttle program as technical assistant for the Reusable Solid Rocket Motor Project. In 1996, Burt also was a Space Flight Awareness honoree, the highest form of recognition bestowed upon an employee by the NASA Space Flight Awareness Program.

A native of Columbia, Tenn., he graduated with a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering from Tennessee Technological University in Cookeville.

Burt and his wife, the former Susan Wheeler of Marion, Ind., reside in Rogersville, Ala. Their two children, Jennifer and Jonathan, attend college.

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