Melroy, Spinrad Confirmed for NASA, NOAA POSITIONS

Melroy, Spinrad Confirmed for NASA, NOAA POSITIONS

The Senate confirmed Pam Melroy to be Deputy Administrator of NASA and Rick Spinrad to be Administrator of NOAA today.  The action came just one day after their nominations were approved by the Senate Commerce Committee.

Pam Melroy testifying at her Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Commute confirmation hearing, May 20, 2021. Screengrab.

Melroy, 59, is a retired Air Force Colonel and NASA astronaut.  Before joining NASA in 1994, she was a test pilot and aircraft commander/instructor pilot with more than 5,000 hours in 50 different aircraft and more than 200 combat and combat support hours during her assignment to Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm.  She has a bachelor’s degree in physics and astronomy from Wellesley College and a master’s in earth and planetary sciences from MIT.

As an astronaut, she was the pilot of STS-92 (2000) and STS-121 (2002) and commander of STS-120 (2007). She is one of only two women ever to command a space shuttle mission (Eileen Collins is the other).

After leaving NASA in 2009, she worked in the FAA’s Office of Commercial Space Transportation and at DARPA’s Tactical Technology Office. She also worked for Lockheed Martin on the Orion program.  More recently she has been the owner and CEO of Melroy & Hollett Technology Partners and director of Space Technology and Policy at Nova Systems in Adelaide, Australia.

In a statement today, she said she looks forward to working with NASA Administrator Bill Nelson “to ensure the United States continues to lead in space and beyond – exploring the wonders of the universe, expanding the Earth science research critical to combatting climate change, unlocking scientific discoveries that will change the world as we know it, and inspiring the next generation of discoverers and dreamers.”  Nelson called her “a pioneer and veteran of NASA” who will be an “outstanding leader as we venture further out to the stars!”

Richard “Rick” Spinrad. Credit: Oregon State University.

Also today, the Senate confirmed Rick Spinrad to lead NOAA.

NOAA is part of the Department of Commerce and his position is Under Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere, which makes him Administrator of NOAA. He was NOAA’s Chief Scientist from 2014-2016 and held other NOAA positions throughout his career stepping away from his position as a professor at Oregon State University (OSU). He has a bachelor’s in earth and planetary science from Johns Hopkins University and a master’s and PhD in oceanography from OSU.

Spinrad, 67, said he is “thrilled to be back and am ready to hit the ground running” as NOAA Administrator.  Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo said she looks forward to working with him “as we tackle the climate crisis, conserve our oceans, and grow our blue economy.”

NOAA has not had a Senate-confirmed Administrator since Kathy Sullivan during the second term of the Obama Administration. Former President Trump’s original nominee, Barry Myers, was too controversial to win approval. Myers eventually withdrew and Neil Jacobs, a Trump appointee confirmed as a deputy administrator and serving as Acting Administrator, was nominated, but time ran out before he could be confirmed.

Details on when Melroy and Spinrad will be sworn into office were not announced. It could be tomorrow, but it was suddenly declared to be a Federal holiday today. President Biden signed a bill into law today making June 19 a holiday, but since that is a Saturday this year, it will be celebrated for the first time tomorrow. Juneteenth commemorates the end of slavery in the United States.

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