NASA Administrator Bill Nelson on Wednesday announced the promotion of Jim Free to associate agency administrator at NASA Headquarters in Washington, effective with the retirement of his predecessor Bob Cabana on Sunday, December 31. Since September 2021, Free has served as associate administrator for NASA Exploration Systems. Development Missions Directorate (ESDMD).
Nelson also announced that Free’s deputy, Catherine Koerner, will succeed him as the next head of the mission directorate.
“Many of us in the NASA family have worked with Jim and have been inspired by his character and intellect. “Pam, Bob and I firmly believe that his wealth of experience and expertise will provide exceptional guidance and perspective to our leadership team in his new role as Associate Administrator, enhancing our collective efforts to achieve bold goals for the benefit of all humanity,” said Administrator Nelson. . “Cathy’s experience as ESDMD’s deputy associate administrator, including her leadership in establishing and defining future space exploration architectures while overseeing the development of our deep space transportation systems, has prepared her for this new role as associate administrator of ESDMD. Cathy’s leadership will help NASA continue to expand humanity’s reach in the cosmos. Congratulations, Jim and Cathy!
As an associate administrator, Free He will become NASA’s third-highest-ranking executive, as well as its highest-ranking official. This role serves as a senior advisor to Nelson and Deputy Administrator Pam Melroy. When he takes over, Free will also lead the agency’s 10 center directors and five associate mission directorate administrators at NASA Headquarters. He will serve as the agency’s chief operating officer for more than 18,000 employees and an annual budget of more than $25 billion.
Prior to his appointment as associate administrator for Exploration Systems Development in 2021, Free spent several years in various private sector positions. He left NASA in 2017 after serving as the agency’s deputy associate administrator for technology in the Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters.
Before joining NASA Headquarters, he rose to become director of NASA’s Glenn Research Center in Ohio, where he was responsible for planning, organizing and directing activities necessary to accomplish the center’s assigned missions. Free has served in a variety of roles at NASA centers since he began his career in 1990 at the Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland.
Originally from Northeast Ohio, Free earned his bachelor’s degree in aeronautics from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, and his master’s degree in space systems engineering from Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands.
Free has received the Presidential Rank Award, the NASA Distinguished Service Medal, the NASA Outstanding Leadership Medal, the NASA Exceptional Service Medal, the NASA Significant Achievement Medal, and many other awards.
In her new role as associate administrator of the Exploration Systems Development Mission Directorate, Koerner will assume responsibility for the development of NASA’s Moon-Mars architecture, define and manage systems development for the Artemis missions, and plan an integrated approach to deep space exploration.
As deputy associate administrator for mission directorate, Koerner provides leadership and management of human spaceflight development and operations related to NASA’s Moon and Mars exploration goals. He is currently responsible for establishing and defining future space exploration architectures while overseeing the development of new space transportation systems and supporting capabilities that are critical to scientific exploration and human-led deep space exploration.
Prior to his positions at NASA Headquarters, Koerner was NASA Orion Program Manager at NASA Johnson, where he was responsible for overseeing the design, development and testing of the Orion spacecraft. Prior to leading the Orion Program, Koerner served as director of the Human Health and Performance Directorate, focusing on improving crew health and performance and mitigating risks associated with human spaceflight.
As a former NASA flight director, Koerner led teams in NASA mission control during the space shuttle and International Space Station missions. Previously, he also held several leadership positions within the space station program during its assembly phase and managed NASA’s cargo resupply services contracts, helping to foster a commercial space industry in low-Earth orbit. Before Johnson, he worked at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California.
Koerner earned his Bachelor of Science and Master of Science degrees in aeronautical and astronautical engineering from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He has received numerous awards, including a Presidential Rank Award in 2019, two Outstanding Leadership Medals (2006, 2013), the NASA Outstanding Service Medal (2007), the Johnson Center Director’s Commendation (2017), and numerous awards. for group achievements.
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