Bridenstine Makes Personnel Moves

Bridenstine Makes Personnel Moves

Jim Bridenstine announced several personnel changes today as he settles into his new job as NASA Administrator.  Among them is permanently appointing Steve Jurczyk as Associate Administrator — the highest ranking civil servant at the agency.  Jurczyk has been in that position on an acting basis since March.

Bridenstine revealed the changes in a NASA press release and tweets.

Before being named Acting Associate Administrator by then-Acting Administrator Robert Lightfoot, Jurczyk was the head of NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate (STMD), which is slated for abolition as part of a NASA reorganization.  STMD’s portfolio will be moved to the Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate (HEOMD) and focused on human exploration rather than the cross-cutting research it was created to perform.

Jurczyk was Director of NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, VA before coming to NASA Headquarters in March 2015.  He has bachelor and master of science degrees in electrical engineering from the University of Virginia and began his NASA career at Langley in 1988.  His early NASA career focused on earth science missions including the Tropical Rainfall Mapping Mission (TRMM) and Landsat 7.

The Associate Administrator position was held by Lightfoot beginning in 2012.  He was dual-hatted in that job as well as NASA Acting Administrator after Charlie Bolden left at the end of the Obama Administration in January 2017.  His deputy as Associate Administrator was Krista Paquin.  Bridenstine said today that she will retire from the agency at the end of this month.

Paquin’s successor as Associate Deputy Administrator will be Melanie Saunders, who has been serving as acting deputy director of Johnson Space Center for the past four months.  Previously she was JSC’s associate Center director and before that associate manager of the International Space Station program.

Bridenstine was sworn in as NASA Administrator on April 23 and is beginning to build his own team.  He appointed Mark Geyer as the new Director of JSC on May 14, succeeding Ellen Ochoa, who is retiring.  He also has named NASA’s policy chief, Tom Cremins, as his Acting Chief of Staff.

The NASA Administrator position is a political appointment, as is Deputy Administrator.  The latter position remains vacant.  The Trump Administration has not nominated anyone for that job yet.

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