NASA Administrator Announces Senior Leadership Appointments
On Friday, NASA Administrator Michael Griffin named Richard J. Gilbrech as associate administrator for the Exploration Systems Mission Directorate, the NASA division designing the next generation of spacecraft to return astronauts to the moon and eventually journey to Mars. Gilbrech currently serves as the director of NASA's Stennis Space Center in Mississippi. Griffin also named Robert D. Cabana, deputy director of NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston, to replace Gilbrech as center director at Stennis.
Gilbrech will succeed Scott Horowitz, who will leave his position in early October to pursue interests outside NASA.
"Scott Horowitz is someone who has seen it all and done it all in aerospace -- Ph.D. researcher, fighter pilot, test pilot, astronaut, and the possessor of a brilliant system engineer's mind," Griffin said. "He was the perfect choice to kick-start NASA's effort to replace the shuttle and return to the moon; the Ares I always will be seen as Scott's brainchild. I will forever consider him to be both a good friend and a valued colleague. But I respect his need to move on.
"We are incredibly fortunate to have as his replacement someone of Rick Gilbrech's training, talent, and experience," Griffin continued. "Rick was our 'go to guy' when we needed someone to head a tiger team to deal with the loss of the shuttle PAL ramp foam on STS-114. With experience in both institutional and project management, Rick's willingness to take on this challenge will ensure the Exploration Systems Mission Directorate remains in good hands."
Before being named director of Stennis in 2006, Gilbrech was deputy director of the agency's Langley Research Center in Hampton, Va., and deputy director of NASA's Engineering Safety Center located at Langley. Gilbrech began his career at the Stennis Space Center in Mississippi in 1991. He earned a bachelor's degree in aerospace engineering from Mississippi State University, Starkville, and master's and doctoral degrees from the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena.
As director of the Stennis Space Center, Cabana will oversee all operations of NASA's primary center for rocket propulsion testing and the Applied Research and Technology Project Office. Stennis is a multi-agency center with operations or offices for 30 government agencies.
"With the spacecraft engine development work planned during the next few years, Stennis is a key to our future beyond low Earth orbit, and replacing Rick as its director is a difficult task," Griffin said. "We are lucky to have in Bob Cabana a highly experienced center deputy, test pilot, astronaut and engineer to fill this position. Few people have given more to NASA and to spaceflight than Bob. While he can do anything and could fill nearly any job at NASA, I am personally thrilled that he has accepted this opportunity to step up to the next level of our agency's senior management."
Cabana was selected as an astronaut in 1985, flying twice as a space shuttle pilot and twice as commander, accumulating more than 1,000 hours in space. Cabana served in a number of management positions supporting the astronaut office and the International Space Station program, as well as serving as NASA liaison to the Russian space agency. He has served as the Johnson Space Center deputy director in Houston since 2004. He is a native of Minnesota and a 1971 graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md.