August 25, 2009

Marshall Space Center gets a new chief

NASA says it has appointed Robert Lightfoot Jr. the director of the Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala.

Lightfoot has served as the acting director of the center since the resignation of David King in March. Lightfoot was the facility's deputy director from 2007 to 2009.

The space agency said Lightfoot has played a critical role in advancing NASA's exploration mission, including leading development of the Ares I rocket and the Ares V heavy cargo launch vehicles and a lunar landing mission. He also served as manager of the Space Shuttle Propulsion Office at Marshall from 2005 to 2007.

Lightfoot began his NASA career at Marshall in 1989 as a test engineer and program manager for the space shuttle main engine technology test program and the Russian RD-180 engine testing program for the Atlas launch vehicle program, the space agency said.

He is a native of Montevallo, Ala., and received a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering in 1986 from the University of Alabama. In October 2007, he was named Distinguished Departmental Fellow for the University of Alabama, Department of Mechanical Engineering and selected as a University of Alabama College of Engineering fellow in 2009.