Michael Hess was appointed Deputy Associate Administrator for Mission Support Directorate (MSD) in January 2023. In this role, he partners with the Associate Administrator to develop strategy and facilitate the delivery of NASA’s institutional support functions, encompassing an annual budget of over $3.5B and a workforce of over 11,000 people. With over 30 years of NASA service, Hess’ institutional knowledge allows him to be a trusted advisor to the NASA centers as MSD provides consistency and uniformity across institution capabilities and services.
In his previous role, Hess served as the Deputy Director of the NASA Office of JPL Management and Oversight (NOJMO) at the agency’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL). As the deputy official in charge, Hess managed the Caltech/JPL agreement and NASA’s only Federally Funded Research and Development Center (FFRDC) to provide robotic exploration of the solar system, planetary science, unique astrophysics, Earth science, and operate NASA’s Deep Space Network (DSN). Hess managed all aspects of the contract to ensure statutory, regulatory, and fiduciary compliance as well as strategic integration across the agency.
Hess began his NASA career in 1989 as a Cooperative Employment Student at Johnson Space Center. His early technical career was spent as an Extravehicular Activity Officer planning spacewalks, training astronauts, developing space tools, and serving as a shuttle flight controller. After completing an assignment at NASA Headquarters as an Acting Program Executive for Exploration, he took on progressively more strategic leadership positions. These include working with MSD as Johnson Space Center’s acting Deputy Chief Financial Officer and Associate Director for the center’s Engineering Directorate.
From 2021 to 2022, Hess served as the Deputy of Safety for the NASA Engineering and Safety Center (NESC), acting as a conduit between the NESC, Office of Safety and Mission Assurance (OSMA), and center SMA organizations. Hess served as Operations Integration Manager of the Commercial Crew Program (CCP) from 2018-2021, where he was responsible for leading and managing the real-time mission support during all phases of flight of NASA commercial partners (SpaceX, Boeing), including serving as the Chair of the NASA Mission Management Team.
In 2018 Hess served a detail as the interim Johnson Space Center Associate Center Director where he helped manage one of NASA’s largest installations, with nearly 14,000 civil service and contractor employees — including those at White Sands Test Facility in Las Cruces, New Mexico — and an annual budget of approximately $5 billion. In his role as associate director, Hess oversaw a broad range of human spaceflight activities.
Hess earned Bachelor of Science degrees in aerospace and mechanical engineering from the University of Michigan and an executive MBA from the Naval Postgraduate School. Hess is a graduate of the Program and Project Management Development Program and the Harvard University Senior Executive Fellows Program. Hess has been recognized with the NASA Outstanding Leadership Medal, the Silver Snoopy Award, and the Center Director’s Commendation.