Jurczyk Moves Up to Acting NASA AA, Reuter Takes Over STMD

Jurczyk Moves Up to Acting NASA AA, Reuter Takes Over STMD

Steve Jurczyk is now NASA’s Acting Associate Administrator (AA), the third highest ranking position in the agency.  He had been Associate Administrator for the Space Technology Mission Directorate (STMD).  His STMD Deputy, James Reuter, is now Acting STMD AA.  Robert Lightfoot became AA in September 2012, but since January 2017 has been wearing a second hat as NASA’s Acting Administrator. Jurczyk’s promotion should relieve some of the burden as NASA continues to await Senate confirmation of a new Administrator.

Steve Jurczyk, NASA Acting Associate Administrator. Photo Credit: NASA/Joel Kowsky

NASA is proposing to abolish STMD as part of its FY2019 budget request and refocus its technology efforts on supporting the Trump Administration’s plans to return humans to the Moon.

STMD was created in 2013 to develop “cross-cutting, advanced and pioneering new technologies” that could be used by various NASA missions and others in the aerospace sector, rather than mission-directed research and development for a specific purpose.  The proposal to eliminate STMD is controversial.

NASA periodically reorganizes its headquarters management structure and budget accounts.  Apart from the creation of STMD, the most recent major reorganization was in 2011 when the Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate (HEOMD) was established.  It was formed by the merger of the Exploration Systems Mission Directorate (ESMD), which was focused on developing systems to send humans beyond low Earth orbit (LEO), and the Space Operations Mission Directorate (SOMD), where operations of the ISS and space shuttle were managed.  The space shuttle program was ending at the time, so ISS operations (and other space and flight operations) were placed into the same Mission Directorate as exploration.

Among Jurczyk’s first tasks as Acting AA is recommending whether it is time to split the organization perhaps back into something similar to ESMD and SOMD.

Right now, HEOMD manages programs in the Exploration and the Space Operations budget accounts.  STMD manages programs in the Space Technology budget account.  The FY2019 proposal is to eliminate all three and replace them with three new accounts:  “Deep Space Exploration Systems” for the Space Launch System/Orion/Exploration Ground Systems; “Exploration Research and Technology” for what will remain of STMD combined with technology work now in Exploration; and “LEO and Spaceflight Operations” for what is in Space Operations plus the new effort to stimulate commercial development of space stations.  Congress must approve changes to the budget structure so it could take some time for all of this to be resolved, but in the meantime Jurczyk will be recommending a headquarters management structure to go along with the new budget accounts, all of which reflect Trump Administration priorities.

Jurczyk was named NASA’s Associate Administrator for STMD in March 2015, succeeding Mike Gazarik, STMD’s first AA.  Jurcyzk had been Director of NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, VA.  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.

Jim Reuter, Acting NASA Associate Administrator for Space Technology Mission Directorate. Credit: NASA/Joel Kowsky

Jim Reuter now is serving as Acting Associate Administrator for STMD.  He had been Jurczyk’s deputy since August 2015.

Previously he was Senior Executive for Technical Integration at Marshall Space Flight Center and chaired the Exploration Systems Division Standing Review Board, overseeing development of SLS/Orion/EGS.  He joined NASA in 1983, and has worked in a variety of engineering and management roles at Marshall, Johnson Space Center, and Headquarters.  He has a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis.




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