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Thursday, July 09, 2020

Meet the first female head of NASA’s human spaceflight program

Steve Stich will replace Kathy Lueders as the Commercial Crew Program Manager while Ken Bowersox returns to his role as HEO deputy associate administrator.

By: Tech Desk | New Delhi | Updated: June 14, 2020 12:34:38 pm
kathy lueders Meet the first female head of NASA’s human spaceflight program (Image Credits: NASA)

NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine announced the appointment of Commercial Crew Program Manager Kathy Lueders as the agency’s next associate administrator of the Human Exploration and Operations (HEO) Mission Directorate, making her the first female head of human spaceflight program.

As the Commercial Crew Program Manager, Lueders has been directing NASA’s efforts to send astronauts to space on private spacecraft since 2014. She oversaw the inaugural private crewed flight Demo-2 from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida last month.

“Kathy has successfully managed both the Commercial Crew & Commercial Cargo programs and is the right person to lead HEO as we prepare to send astronauts to the Moon in 2024,” Bridenstine wrote in a Tweet on Friday.

In a press release, NASA said that the appointment takes effect immediately. Steve Stich will replace Lueders as the Commercial Crew Program Manager while Ken Bowersox returns to his role as HEO deputy associate administrator.

Also read | Meet the two NASA astronauts from SpaceX Demo-2 mission

“Kathy gives us the extraordinary experience and passion we need to continue to move forward with Artemis and our goal of landing the first woman and the next man on the Moon by 2024,” Bridenstine said.

“She has a deep interest in developing commercial markets in space, dating back to her initial work on the space shuttle program. From Commercial Cargo and now Commercial Crew, she has safely and successfully helped push to expand our nation’s industrial base. Kathy’s the right person to extend the space economy to the lunar vicinity and achieve the ambitious goals we’ve been given.”

Kathy Lueders’ career at NASA

Kathy Lueders has a Bachelor of Business Administration in Finance from the University of New Mexico and a Bachelor of Science and Master of Science in Industrial Engineering from New Mexico State University. Here is a timeline of her career at the NASA:

*Lueders began her NASA career in 1992 at the White Sands Test Facility in New Mexico where she was the manager of Shuttle Orbital Maneuvering System and Reaction Control Systems Depot.

*She later moved to the International Space Station Program and served as transportation integration manager. She led commercial cargo resupply services to the ISS.

*Lueders was also responsible for NASA oversight of international partner spacecraft visiting the ISS, including the European Space Agency’s Automated Transfer Vehicle, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency’s H-II Transfer Vehicle, and the Russian space agency Roscosmos’ Soyuz and Progress spacecraft.

*In 2013, Lueders went to Kennedy as acting Commercial Crew Program Manager.

*In 2014, she was selected as the head of the office in 2014.

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“I want to thank Ken and the entire HEO team for their steady support of Kathy in making Commercial Crew such a success. I know they’ll give her the same support as she moves out in her new role,” Bridenstine said. “This is such a critical time for the agency and for HEO. We still need to bring Doug and Bob home safely and we’re not going to lose focus. We have our sights set on the Moon and even deeper into space, and Kathy is going to help lead us there.”

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