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Michael Barrett portrait with U.S. and NASA flags in background

Dr. Michael J. Barrett

Director, Space Flight Systems Directorate

Dr. Michael J. Barrett is the director of the Space Flight Systems Directorate at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s John H. Glenn Research Center in Cleveland. He assumed this position December 2021 and is responsible for planning, organizing, and directing the space technology development and missions assigned to the center with an annual budget of approximately $400 million. Glenn is engaged in research and flight systems development in support of the nation’s space propulsion, space power, space communications, microgravity sciences, and materials development programs.

Prior to this appointment, Barrett served as chief of Glenn’s Power and Propulsion Project Office and as project manager of the Power and Propulsion Element (PPE) for the agency’s lunar Gateway. In this position, Barrett was responsible for a cross-agency team of 120 personnel and the management and technical oversight of the $375 million PPE development contract with Maxar Technologies.
Before serving as chief of the Power and Propulsion Office, he served as deputy chief for the Space Technology Project Office at Glenn from 2013 to 2019. He also held several project management and chief engineer roles, including the solar electric propulsion module on NASA’s Asteroid Redirect Robotic Mission, the Orion spacecraft’s Crew and Service Module, the Space Communications and Navigation (SCaN) Testbed, the High Ice Water Content Research Flight Project, and Orion’s main propulsion system. Barrett began his aerospace career at Lockheed Martin as a propulsion systems engineer before transitioning in 1991 to NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, where he worked in various capacities supporting space shuttle, the International Space Station, and other advanced engineering programs.

Barrett took a sabbatical from NASA from 1995 to 2002 to complete his graduate studies and take a position on the engineering faculty at Valparaiso University in Indiana. Barrett lectured, led research teams, and taught laboratory classes in thermodynamics, heat transfer, fluid dynamics, propulsion, experimental methods, mechatronics, and systems design.

Barrett holds a bachelor’s in aeronautical and astronautical engineering from Purdue University and he earned his master’s and doctorate in mechanical engineering from University of Houston. He also holds an executive certificate in management and leadership from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a Senior Expert Level Federal Acquisition Certification for Program/Project Managers. He has received numerous agency awards during his career including NASA’s Outstanding Leadership Medal.