Today’s Tidbits: September 30, 2019

Today’s Tidbits: September 30, 2019

Here are’s tidbits for September 30, 2019:  Bobby Braun headed to JPL; Trump welcomes Milley as new Joint Chiefs Chairman; Marla Pérez-Davis takes over at NASA-Glenn.  Be sure to check our website for feature stories and follow us on Twitter (@SpcPlcyOnline) for more news and live tweeting of events.

Bobby Braun Headed to JPL

Bobby Braun, Dean of Engineering, University of Colorado Boulder. Credit: CU Boulder.

The University of Colorado Boulder announced today that its Dean of Engineering, Bobby Braun, is leaving in January to join NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL). []

Braun is a highly respected aerospace engineer who moved to CU Boulder three years ago from Georgia Tech.  He had been on the faculty there since 2003, but accepted a detail to NASA HQ from 2010-11 as Chief Technologist.  His main task was laying the groundwork for establishing the Space Technology Mission Directorate (STMD), dedicated to developing crosscutting technologies that can be used for a wide range of space and aeronautics activities instead of for a specific mission.

JPL Director Michael Watkins is reorganizing the Laboratory, merging “significant portions” of the Mars Exploration Directorate and the Solar System Directorate.  Watkins said in a memo to employees that he had conducted a search for the “right leader to carry forward implementation” of JPL’s planetary explorations missions and plan for the future.  Braun is his choice.

Right now JPL’s major planetary missions are the Mars 2020 rover and the Europa Clipper mission to Jupiter’s moon Europa (and possibly a Europa Lander).

Prior to Georgia Tech, Braun worked at NASA’s Langley Research Center for 16 years.  Much of his career has involved working on technologies for Mars missions. Watkins noted that Braun participated in several JPL flight projects starting with Mars Pathfinder, has served on numerous flight project review boards, and served on the JPL Advisory Council for more than a decade. He also was a distinguished scholar at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) in 2015.  JPL is a Federally Funded Research and Development Center (FFRDC) operated for NASA by Caltech.

Braun has a bachelor’s degree in engineering from Penn State, a master’s in astronautics from George Washington University, and a doctorate in aeronautics and astronautics from Stanford.  He is a member of the National Academy of Engineering and a fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA).

Trump Welcomes Milley as New Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff

Gen. Mark Milley (U.S. Army) was welcomed today as the 20th Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the highest ranking military officer in the country. He succeeds Gen. Joseph Dunford Jr. (USMC).

Gen. Mark Milley (USA), the new Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS), shakes hands with President Trump during the Armed Forces Welcome Ceremony where he takes the reins of the JCS, Sept. 30, 2019. White House photo.

During today’s ceremony, President Trump praised Dunford for his long military career and specifically for his work in developing the Trump Administration’s proposal to create a Space Force as a sixth military service.

As Chairman, Joe has also been a strong supporter and crucial advocate for creating the sixth branch of the U.S.  Armed Forces — something that I’m really proud about and something that, when I make these speeches in these massive arenas loaded up with people, thousands and thousands, it just about gets the number one line of applause because I say, “We’re creating the Space Force.”  And the place goes crazy.  Great popularity, because that’s where it’s going to be at, more and more. — President Trump

Milley will have some work to do on Space Force himself, aided no doubt by his Vice Chairman, Gen. John Hyten (USAF), who was just confirmed by the Senate last week and has spent his career in national security space.  The House and Senate are in negotiations over the FY2020 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) where Space Force details will be hammered out.  Milley’s Army background may be an asset.  The Army asserts that it is the biggest user of space assets among the services (think GPS, satellite phones, and satellite imagery).  In fact, Army Lt. Gen. James Dickinson is now the Deputy Commander of U.S. Space Command, the new unified combatant command. He had been Commander of the Army Space and Missile Defense Command.

Trump warmly welcomed Milley, saying “You are my friend.  You’re my adviser. And you deserve this position. I never had a doubt.”  Indeed, Trump announced his choice of Milley as Dunford’s replacement back in December, many months before this transition was due.

Milley was appointed Army Chief of Staff in 2015 and thus has been a member of the Joint Chiefs for the past four years.  He graduated with a bachelor’s degree in political science and received his commission from Princeton University in 1980. He has master’s degrees from Columbia University in international relations and the U.S. Naval War College in national security and strategic studies.  He has served in many command and leadership positions in the Army throughout his career. His deployments include Sinai, Egypt; Panama; Haiti; Bosnia-Herzegovina; Iraq; Afghanistan; Somalia; and Colombia.

Marla Pérez-Davis Takes Over at NASA-Glenn

Marla Pérez-Davis, incoming Acting Director, NASA Glenn Research Center. Credit: NASA

With the departure of Janet Kavandi, Marla Pérez-Davis will become the Acting Director of NASA’s Glenn Research Center in Cleveland, Ohio tomorrow.  She currently is Deputy Director.

Pérez-Davis has worked at Glenn since 1983, rising through the ranks to become Chief of the Electrochemistry Branch, chief of the Project Liaison and Integration Office, Director of the Aeronautics Research Office, and Deputy Director of the Research and Engineering Directorate.

A native of Puerto Rico, she earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Puerto Rico, a master’s of science from the University of Toledo, and a doctorate in chemical engineering from Case Western Reserve University.

Named in honor of Ohio native son and the first American to orbit the earth, John Glenn, the center designs and develops innovative technologies for NASA’s aeronautics and space missions. It is involved in just about every mission area at NASA from aeronautics to science to human spaceflight.  Its Plum Brook station in Sandusky, Ohio is where the Orion spacecraft will go through environmental testing.



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