March 10, 2009

NASA’s Kevin Petersen to retire

Kevin Petersen, director of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's Dryden Flight Research Center in California, says he will retire next month.

A veteran aerospace engineer and manager with 38 years experience at Dryden, Petersen has served as the center's director for more than 10 years and is the longest-serving field center director currently at NASA, officials said.

Dryden's deputy center director, David McBride, has been named acting director.

NASA officials said that during Petersen's tenure as center director, Dryden has accomplished many flight-research firsts, including the flight of the Helios solar-electric aircraft to a world record altitude of 96,863 feet, the flight of the X-43A integrated scramjet vehicle to a speed of Mach 10 and the demonstration of fully autonomous in-flight aerial refueling capability.

Petersen began his career at Dryden as a university cooperative student in 1971 and was hired as an aerospace engineer upon graduation in 1974. He will step down April 3.