Suggested Searches

Dr. Rick Gilbrech, Director, NASA’s Stennis Space Center

Dr. Richard J. Gilbrech

Former Stennis Space Center Director

Richard J. Gilbrech served as director of NASA’s John C. Stennis Space Center near Bay St. Louis, MS, from his appointment to the position in 2012 until his retirement from NASA in January, 2024. As director, he provided executive leadership, overall direction and management of the center. He is responsible for implementing NASA’s mission in the area of rocket propulsion testing, developing and maintaining NASA’s world-class rocket propulsion test facilities. He served as a federal manager hosting an integrated multi-agency federal laboratory. Stennis is a unique federal city that is home to more than 40 federal, state, academic and private organizations and numerous technology-based companies.


Gilbrech received a B.S. in Aerospace Engineering from Mississippi State University and M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Aeronautics from the California Institute of Technology. The recipient of numerous awards, he has received both Meritorious and Distinguished Presidential Rank Awards, NASA’s prestigious Outstanding Leadership and Exceptional Achievement, and Equal Employment Opportunity Medals.


Prior to this appointment, Gilbrech served as deputy director of Stennis. Gilbrech began his NASA career in 1991 at Stennis in the area of propulsion test technology. In 1995, he became Stennis National Aerospace Plane project manager, responsible for construction, activation and operation of a facility to test actively-cooled structures. Later, he was named the X-33 project manager, responsible for converting Stennis’ A-1 test stand from space shuttle main engine testing to linear aerospike turbopump single and dual engine testing. From 1998 to 2000, he served as chief of the Propulsion Test Engineering Division at Stennis.

Gilbrech accepted a six-month detail at the Johnson Space Center in Houston in late 2000 where he served as technical assistant to the space shuttle program manager. He then returned to Stennis as deputy director of propulsion testing. In 2003, Gilbrech was named manager of the Propulsion Integration Office, responsible for managing NASA’s rocket propulsion test facilities.

In late 2003, Gilbrech relocated to Langley Research Center in Hampton, VA, to serve as a principal engineer in the NASA Engineering and Safety Center. He later served as deputy of the NASA Engineering and Safety Center at Langley and as deputy director of the center.

In February 2006, Gilbrech was named director of Stennis Space Center, serving in that role until becoming the Associate Administrator for NASA’s Exploration Systems Mission Directorate at Headquarters in October 2007. He left NASA in November 2008 to work in industry and returned to NASA Stennis as associate director in April 2009.