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Marshall History

A brief history of Marshall Space Flight Center

Marshall Center Directors 1960–present

Portrait of Dr. Wernher von Braun

July 1960–January 1970

Dr. Eberhard Rees

March 1970–January 1973


January 1973–March 1974

Portrait of Dr. William R. Lucas

June 1974–July 1986

Portrait of Dr. James R. Thompson

September 1986–July 1989

Portrait of Thomas Jack Lee

July 1989–January 1994

Portrait of Gene Porter Bridwell

January 1994–February 1996

Dr. J. Wayne Littles

January 1996–January 1998

Portrait of Art G. Stephenson

September 1998–May 2003

Portrait of David A. King

June 2003–April 2009

Portrait of Robert Lightfoot

August 2009–August 2012

Portrait of Patrick Scheuermann

September 2012–December 2015

Marshall Center Director Todd May

February 2016–July 2018

A photo of Jody Singer from Marshall Space Flight Center in front of an American Flag wtih a brown background behind her.

September 2018–July 2023

Portrait of Joseph Pelfrey

July 2023–present

In 1961, when President John F. Kennedy envisioned an American on the moon by the end of the decade, NASA turned to Marshall Space Flight Center to create the incredibly powerful rocket needed to turn this presidential vision into reality. Since its beginning in 1960, Marshall has provided the agency with mission-critical design, development and integration of the launch and space systems required for space operations, exploration and scientific missions.

A Saturn V lies on its side as a group of men stand in front of it in this black and white photo. A label of S-IC Flight Stage - Huntsville is at the top.
This small group of unidentified officials is dwarfed by the gigantic size of the Saturn V first stage (S-1C) at the shipping area of the Manufacturing Engineering Laboratory at Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. The towering 363-foot Saturn V was a multi-stage, multi-engine launch vehicle standing taller than the Statue of Liberty. Altogether, the Saturn V engines produced as much power as 85 Hoover Dams.

Marshall’s legacy in rocket engineering includes providing the Saturn rockets that powered Americans to the moon and the Lunar Roving Vehicle that aided exploration of the moon; managing the development of Skylab, America’s first space station; developing space shuttle propulsion systems and experiments, including Spacelab; building the Hubble Space Telescope and the Chandra X-ray Observatory; and building the International Space Station’s laboratory modules and experiment facilities and operating station science experiments. In addition to these major programs, Marshall has built many smaller science experiments and conducts science in a variety of disciplines. Marshall’s expertise in building large space systems and unique interdisciplinary approach to problem solving brings scientific and engineering expertise together, providing answers that improve life on Earth and provide a foundation for deep space exploration.

Marshall History Stories

Learn how it all began. Read about Marshall’s role in rocket history and space science. Find articles, pictures, and videos of events from Marshall’s past from the early years of rocket pioneer Dr. Wernher von Braun to the International Space Station.