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Airborne's Annual April 1st Episode

Wed, Mar 14, 2018

Acting NASA Administrator Announces Retirement

Robert Lightfoot Will Step Down At The End Of April

Acting NASA administrator Robert Lightfoot announced in an internal memo Monday that he will step down and retire at the end of April.

Lightfoot (pictured) became NASA’s acting administrator effective Jan. 20, 2017. His permanent title is associate administrator for NASA, the agency's highest-ranking civil servant position, effective since Sept. 25, 2012.

He previously was director of NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, AL. Named to the position in August 2009, he headed one of NASA's largest field installations, which plays a critical role in NASA’s space operations, exploration and science missions. Lightfoot managed a broad range of propulsion, scientific and space transportation activities contributing to the nation's space program. He served as acting director of the center from March 2009 until his appointment as director.

From 2007 to 2009, Lightfoot was deputy director of the Marshall Center. Lightfoot served as manager of the Space Shuttle Propulsion Office at Marshall from 2005 to 2007, where he was responsible for overseeing the manufacture, assembly and operation of the primary shuttle propulsion elements: the main engines, external tank, solid rocket boosters and reusable solid rocket motors.

In the memo, Lightfoot said that his announcement comes with "bittersweet feelings". He added: "I will work with the White House on a smooth transition to the new administrator." No reason for his retirement was given.

“Robert Lightfoot has served NASA exceptionally well for nearly 30 years. He has worked in many capacities starting as a test engineer and rising to NASA’s highest ranking civil servant as associate administrator before heading the agency as acting administrator," said House Science Committee Chair Lamar Smith (R-TX) in a statement following the announcement. "His commitment to America’s spaceflight program and space exploration has been an immense asset for NASA, and we will miss his leadership at NASA’s helm. As Acting Administrator Lightfoot said himself, ‘NASA make[s] the impossible possible.’ I thank Robert for all he has done to achieve the impossible, and I look forward to a smooth transition to the next administrator and to what’s to come as NASA soars toward its next achievements.”

(Image from file)

FMI: www.nasa.gov, science.house.gov

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