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Three New Flight Directors Chosen to Lead NASA's Mission Control
jsc2011e196257 -- New flight directors Greg Whitney, Tomas Gonzalez-Torres and Judd Frieling

New flight directors Greg Whitney, Tomas Gonzalez-Torres and Judd Frieling. Credit: NASA
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NASA has selected three new flight directors. Judd Frieling, Tomas Gonzalez-Torres and Greg Whitney will join the select group of human spaceflight leaders in the Christopher C. Kraft Jr. Mission Control Center at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston.

› Video: Station Commander Mike Fossum congratulates new flight directors

Leading a team of flight controllers, support personnel and engineering experts from around the world, NASA’s flight directors have the overall responsibility to manage and carry out International Space Station operations. Flight directors also are involved in integration of cargo and crew vehicles with the International Space Station and developing plans for future exploration missions.

“As we move into a new era of spaceflight, these new flight directors will help us transition the knowledge and experience from the existing human spaceflight programs into the next period of exploration and space station operations,” said John McCullough, chief of the Flight Director Office. “This includes development of new technologies and techniques for spaceflight, as well as development and execution of our future missions in the years to come.”

A flight director leads and orchestrates planning and integration activities with flight controllers, payload customers, station international partners, commercial providers, hardware experts and others. All of the recently selected flight directors have previously served as flight controllers in Mission Control and will begin training as International Space Station flight directors.

The selection process began at the beginning of August. It brings to 25 the number of active flight directors currently supporting the space station, exploration, commercial spaceflights and new technology demonstration initiatives. Once the new flight directors have completed their training and certification, only 83 people will have served as NASA flight directors in the nearly 50 years of human spaceflight.

  • Judd Frieling was born in Austin, Texas, but considers Pflugerville, Texas, his hometown. He earned a Bachelor of Science in aerospace engineering from the University of Texas at Austin in 1996. He began a diverse flight control career in 1997 as an Onboard Data Interfaces and Network (ODIN) officer, serving as lead for the STS-97 station assembly mission and worked to resolve multiple computer failures during the STS-100 mission. He was instrumental in developing new operations processes and procedures, allowing the Mission Control Center to operate with significantly smaller staffs during quiet periods aboard the station. In 2004, Frieling transitioned to space shuttle flight control as a Data Processing Systems (DPS) officer, and he supported 20 shuttle flights. He served as lead DPS officer for STS-118 and STS-130.

  • Tomas Gonzalez-Torres was born in Rio Piedras, Puerto Rico. He earned a Bachelor of Science in aerospace engineering from Iowa State University in 1998. A veteran spacewalk flight controller, Gonzalez-Torres has been the group lead for the Extravehicular Activities (EVA) Systems Group for the past three years, and he has recently been acting chief of the EVA Operations Branch. He joined NASA in 1994 and worked as a spacewalk task and systems instructor. Gonzalez-Torres became an EVA officer in 2005, working 17 shuttle flights including lead for the STS-121 assembly mission, which included tests of shuttle heat shield inspection and repair techniques. He served as the lead spacewalk officer for the final Hubble Space Telescope servicing mission, STS-125, and four space station expedition spacewalks.

  • Greg Whitney was born in Albany, N.Y., but considers Rye, N.H., his hometown. He earned a Bachelor of Science in aerospace engineering from the University of Texas at Austin in 2002. He joined NASA in 2002 and has supported space station activities as an Operations Planner (Ops Plan) and space shuttle missions as a Flight Activities Officer (FAO), developing plans to optimize crew operations. He supported 14 space station expeditions and 12 space shuttle missions, including serving as the lead FAO for the last shuttle flight, STS-135, earlier this year. He also spent time as an acting group lead for spaceflight planning activities.