Scolese To Be Nominated As Next NRO Director

Scolese To Be Nominated As Next NRO Director

President Trump announced his intent to nominate Chris Scolese, Director of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, to become the next director of the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) today.  Scolese has a long history at NASA, including serving as Acting Administrator during the changeover from the George W. Bush to Barack Obama administrations.

Chris Scolese, Director, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center. Credit: NASA

Scolese has been Goddard Center Director since March 2012.   Goddard manages many of NASA’s space telescope programs, including the Hubble Space Telescope and the Wide-Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST) that have a technology heritage from NRO’s spy satellites.  He also has a background in the Naval Nuclear Reactor program.

Scolese has a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from the State University of New York at Buffalo, a certificate in nuclear reactor engineering and design from the Bettis Reactor Engineering School, a master’s in electrical engineering and computer science from George Washington University (GWU), and a Ph.D. in systems engineering from GWU.

As a Navy officer, he worked at Naval Reactors for Admiral Hyman Rickover  (1978-1986).  In 1987, he joined NASA Goddard’s Earth science team and became Earth Science Program Manager and Deputy Director of Flight Projects.  He then moved to NASA Headquarters as Deputy Associate Administrator for Space Science for three years before returning to Goddard where he rose to become Deputy Center Director.  His next step was a return to NASA Headquarters first as Chief Engineer and then as Associate Administrator, the top civil servant at the agency.  He served as Acting Administrator between Mike Griffin’s and Charlie Bolden’s terms (January-July 2009).

NRO is one of the 17 agencies that make up the Intelligence Community (IC). Established in 1961, it designs, builds and operates the nation’s spy satellites.  Its existence was declassified in 1992.  Headquartered in Chantilly, VA, its 3,000 personnel come from the armed services, the CIA, and DOD civilians.

Betty Sapp has been NRO Director since July 2012, about the same period of time that Scolese has headed Goddard.

Scolese must be confirmed by the Senate, a process with an indefinite timeline.

The National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA), another member of the IC with a space portfolio, also has a new Director.  Vice Admiral Robert Sharp succeeded Robert Cardillo today.

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