Two Top NASA Officials to Leave
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — Two top NASA officials, including the man in charge of developing new spacecraft for future missions to the moon and Mars, plan to leave the space agency, a spokeswoman said Thursday.
Former astronaut Scott “Doc” Horowitz, who heads NASA’s Exploration Systems Mission Directorate will leave by October, and associate administrator Rex Geveden will leave at the end of July.
The timing of both decisions was coincidental, and neither was asked to leave by NASA Administrator Michael Griffin, said NASA spokeswoman Beth Dickey.
Horowitz leaves at a critical time for the development of next-generation spacecraft as NASA finishes signing development contracts and works around a funding squeeze that forced the agency to push back the first manned flight of the new Orion spacecraft to 2015.
“It’s a critical time, but the directorate is well-poised to go on in his absence,” Dickey said.
Horowitz said he wants to move back to Utah and spend more time with his family. Dickey said he expects to be an aerospace consultant.
“His reasons for doing this are strictly personal,” she said. “This is not unexpected. He had been discussing this with the administrator for some time.”
No successor has been named. Horowitz was a pilot and commander on four space shuttle missions before leaving NASA in 2004 to become director of exploration and space for ATK in Utah, which produces the space shuttle’s solid rocket motors.
He returned to NASA in 2005 to head up the explorations directorate which is devoted to developing both the Orion and the Ares rockets which NASA hopes will deliver astronauts and cargo to the moon no later than 2020.
Geveden will take a job in the private sector of the aerospace industry in Alabama.
Geveden joined NASA in 1990 and became associate administrator in 2005. He will become president of Teledyne Brown Engineering in Huntsville, Ala.
Christopher Scolese, NASA’s chief engineer, will succeed him. Scolese drew attention last year when he and NASA chief safety officer Bryan O’Connor recommended that space shuttle Discovery remain grounded until design changes were made to insulating foam on its external tank.
Griffin decided to go ahead with the flight, and the shuttle launched without any of the foam problems which doomed space shuttle Columbia and its seven astronauts.
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