Michael U. Rudolphi, a native of Illinois, served as interim director of NASA's John C. Stennis Space Center in south Mississippi from May 2003 until being named manager of the Space Shuttle Propulsion Office at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala. in Dec. 2003. Rudolphi came to Stennis Space Center in Nov. 2002 as the deputy director.
Rudolphi is a 1966 graduate of Clay City High School in Clay City, Ill. He graduated from the University of Tennessee with a Bachelor of Civil Engineering degree. He also holds a Master of Science degree in Civil Engineering from the University of Tennessee.
He began his career as a design engineer for the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) in Knoxville, Tenn. He later became a field engineering manager for the TVA, where he managed the work of managers, engineers and technicians in support of the construction of a two-unit nuclear power plant. Rudolphi joined NASA in October 1988 as a facility manager for the Advanced Solid Rocket Motor Project in Iuka, Miss., managing the design, construction and operation of an ultra-modern rocket manufacturing facility.
Rudolphi accepted a special assignment to the Solid Rocket Booster Project (SRB) to manage the resident office at the contractor plant at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. He served as chief engineer and project manager for the SRB Project. He was later selected as the project manager for the Reusable Solid Rocket Motor Project. As manager of this project, he was responsible for the design, manufacture and flight performance of the solid rocket motors used on NASA's Space Shuttle. Rudolphi also served as NASA senior representative in Lufkin, Texas, in the debris recovery efforts of the space shuttle Columbia, following its loss in 2003.
He received several special honors and awards, including the NASA Exceptional Achievement Medal, acceptance into the Senior Executive Fellowship Program at Harvard University and induction into the Athletic Hall of Fame at the University of Tennessee in Martin, Tenn., where he played basketball for three years.