NASA has named Denton Gibson launch director for the Launch Services Program at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Gibson fills an open position following the recent retirement of former senior pitching director Omar Báez. Denton will join Senior Launch Director Tim Dunn to lead launch activities for NASA’s science and robotics missions. This team is responsible for planning, implementing, and directing launch campaigns for NASA-managed launch vehicle services.
“The Launch Services Program looks forward to having Denton in his new role as launch director,” said Amanda Mitskevich, Launch Services Program manager. “He has contributed his talents in various technical and programmatic areas to NASA and now his experience will culminate in leading the team that will launch some of NASA’s most important and valuable missions. He’s going to be great at it!
Gibson began his Kennedy career with NASA’s Launch Services Program in 2004, most recently serving as senior mission manager. Her experience involved serving as the primary interface between the program and clients from other NASA centers, federal agencies, federally funded scientific organizations, as well as international partners.
“As the launch director, the responsibility for the entire mission falls to you when you give the final go-ahead for the launch,” Gibson said. “However, our meticulous preparations that begin years before the rocket is on the pad, and the incredible team we have, instill that confidence to say NASA is ready to launch.”
Previous roles on the show have helped prepare Gibson for his new responsibilities. As a senior expert in the vehicle systems engineering discipline, Gibson led the program engineering team and was responsible for the oversight and understanding of a mixed fleet of commercial rockets. He expanded his leadership skills and industry experience during a detailed assignment in 2016 with the staff of the US Senate Subcommittee on Space, Science and Competitiveness working on US space policy.
Gibson earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Electrical Engineering from the University of Florida in Gainesville. She received a master’s degree in industrial engineering in 2006 from the University of Miami and a doctorate in systems engineering in 2019 from the University of Central Florida in Orlando.
“Denton has accumulated knowledge of launch operations through his years of work in advanced planning through integration, systems analysis and launch,” Dunn said. “His ability to ensure spacecraft and rocket readiness, as well as handle the unique mission challenges that arise, prepares him to lead the team on launch day.”
Dunn and Gibson will share mission launch responsibilities in 2024, including NASA’s. PASSED (Plankton, Aerosol, Cloud Ocean Ecosystem); GOES-U, the latest generation of NOAA Geostationary operational environmental satellites; and NASA Europe Clipper, which will explore Jupiter’s icy moon and determine whether it harbors conditions suitable for life. Gibson was born in Nassau, Bahamas, but considers Miami, Florida, where he grew up, to be his hometown.
When Denton is not planning, implementing, and directing launch campaigns, he enjoys building cars, scuba diving, exercising, and spending time with his daughter Phenix. He is also a professional salsa dancer, instructor and choreographer.