Lightfoot Named Director of NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center
WASHINGTON -- NASA has named Robert M. Lightfoot, Jr., as the director of NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala. Lightfoot had served as the acting director of the center since March.
"I'm very pleased to appoint Robert as the Marshall Center Director. As NASA moves into an exciting new era of human and scientific exploration, Robert's skills and expertise will prove invaluable to leading Marshall into the future," NASA Administrator Charles F. Bolden said.
From 2007 to 2009, Lightfoot was deputy director of Marshall and shared responsibility for managing the center. Marshall has played a critical role in advancing NASA's exploration mission, including leading development of the Ares I rocket and the Ares V heavy cargo launch vehicles and a lunar landing mission.
Lightfoot served as manager of the Space Shuttle Propulsion Office at Marshall from 2005 to 2007. He was responsible for overseeing the manufacture, assembly and operation of the primary shuttle propulsion elements: the main engines, external tank, solid rocket boosters and reusable solid rocket motors.
From 2003 to 2005, Lightfoot served 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 NASA's initiative calling for new 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.
In 2002, Lightfoot was named director of the Propulsion Test Directorate at NASA's Stennis Space Center near Bay St. Louis, Miss. He served as deputy director of the organization beginning in 2001, until his appointment as director.
In 1999, Lightfoot joined Stennis as chief of propulsion test operations, managing space shuttle main engine testing and multiple NASA, Department of Defense and industry rocket engine test programs. In 1998, he was named deputy division chief of Marshall's propulsion test division.
Lightfoot began his NASA career at Marshall in 1989 as a test engineer and program manager for the space shuttle main engine technology testbed program and the Russian RD-180 engine testing program for the Atlas launch vehicle program.
A native of Montevallo, Ala., Lightfoot received a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering in 1986 from the University of Alabama. In October 2007, he was named Distinguished Departmental Fellow for the University of Alabama, Department of Mechanical Engineering and selected as a University of Alabama College of Engineering fellow in 2009. Lightfoot serves on the University of Alabama Mechanical Engineering Advisory Board.
Lightfoot has received numerous awards during his NASA career, including a NASA Outstanding Leadership medal in 2007 for outstanding and exemplary leadership of the Shuttle Propulsion Office and assuring safety for the shuttle's return to flight. In 2006, he was awarded the Presidential Rank Award for Meritorious Executives -- the highest honor attainable for federal government work.
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