NOAA's Satellite Chief, Mary Kicza, To Retire This Summer

NOAA's Satellite Chief, Mary Kicza, To Retire This Summer

Mary Kicza, NOAA Assistant Administrator for Satellite and Information Services (NESDIS), will retire from government service this summer.

NESDIS is responsible for NOAA’s weather/environmental satellite programs.  Today that includes the Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite (GOES) system and the Polar-orbiting Operational Environmental Satellite (POES) system, though the latter is due to be replaced by the Joint Polar Satellite System (JPSS) beginning in 2017.  NOAA is working on a few other satellite programs including Jason-3, DSCOVR, and Cosmic-2. 

Kicza has led satellite programs at NOAA through difficult times.  NOAA and DOD polar orbiting weather satellite systems were supposed to be combined into the National Polar-orbiting Operational Environmental Satellite System (NPOESS), but the White House terminated the effort in 2010 after a decade and a half of cost overruns and schedule slippage.  The divorce between NOAA and DOD led to the JPSS program, which faced its own cost growth challenges.  NOAA since has downscaled the program (partially by shifting responsibility for some sensors to NASA), but at the moment it seems to be an on even keel.

NOAA Administrator Kathy Sullivan said that Kicza will leave “some big shoes to fill” after she retires in July (her last day will be in June).   Mark Paese, who recently joined NOAA as NESDIS Deputy Assistant Administrator, will serve in an acting capacity until a replacement is named.

An engineer, Kicza had a long career at NASA before joining NOAA.  Among her many positions, she was NASA’s Associate Administrator for Biological/Physical Research (when NASA had a separate Office of Biological and Physical Research) and Associate Deputy Administrator for Systems Integration.

Her decision to retire was first reported by Space News and confirmed by NOAA.

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