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Kevin L. Petersen

Kevin L. Petersen

Former Armstrong Center Director

Kevin L. Petersen was director of the NASA’s Dryden (now Armstrong) Flight Research Center in Edwards, California, from Feb. 8, 1999, until his retirement from NASA on April 3, 2009. He had previously served as Dryden’s deputy director from January 1996 until being named acting director in August 1998 and director in February 1999.

As NASA’s primary installation for flight research for more than six decades, NASA Dryden is chartered to conceive and conduct experimental flight research and test for advanced aeronautical and aerospace configurations. NASA Dryden plays a vital role in carrying out the agency’s missions of space exploration, space operations, scientific discovery, and aeronautical research and development. In carrying out this mission, Dryden operates some of the most advanced research aircraft in the nation.

His earlier assignments at the center included being chief of the Dynamics and Controls Branch within the Research Engineering Division. There, he provided multidisciplinary support to a variety of research programs in the areas of flight dynamics and controls, structural dynamics, and flight systems. Programs he supported in these capacities included the F-18 High Angle of Attack Research Vehicle and the X 29 Forward Swept Wing technology demonstrator aircraft, serving as chief engineer on that project. He also headed the center’s National AeroSpace Plane project office from February 1992 through November 1993, at which time he served as the center’s acting deputy director.

Petersen began his career at NASA Dryden as a university co op student in 1971, and was hired as an aerospace engineer upon graduation in 1974. Early in his career at Dryden, Petersen worked as a research engineer on the three-eighths scale F-15 Remotely Piloted Research Vehicle, the F-8 Digital Fly-By Wire and the Highly Maneuverable Aircraft Technology projects.

Petersen holds a Bachelor of Science in aerospace engineering from Iowa State University, and earned a Master of Science from the University of California, Los Angeles in 1976, specializing in control systems. In 1979, he furthered his education at Stanford University in a year-long graduate engineering program. He is a fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics. Petersen received NASA’s Exceptional Engineering Achievement Medal in 1985, NASA’s Exceptional Service Medal in 1987, NASA’s Outstanding Leadership Medal in 2000, NASA’s Equal Employment Opportunity Medal in 2001, and NASA’s Exceptional Achievement Medal in 2004 for his contributions to the agency.