Lightfoot Began His NASA Career 20 Years Ago
NASA has named Robert M. Lightfoot,
Jr., as the director of NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in
Huntsville, AL. Lightfoot had served as the acting director of the
center since March.
"I'm very pleased to appoint Robert as the Marshall Center
Director. As NASA moves into an exciting new era of human and
scientific exploration, Robert's skills and expertise will prove
invaluable to leading Marshall into the future," NASA Administrator
Charles F. Bolden said.
From 2007 to 2009, Lightfoot was deputy director of Marshall and
shared responsibility for managing the center. Marshall has played
a critical role in advancing NASA's exploration mission, including
leading development of the Ares I rocket and the Ares V heavy cargo
launch vehicles and a lunar landing mission.
Lightfoot served as manager of the Space Shuttle Propulsion
Office at Marshall from 2005 to 2007. He was responsible for
overseeing the manufacture, assembly and operation of the primary
shuttle propulsion elements: the main engines, external tank, solid
rocket boosters and reusable solid rocket motors.
From 2003 to 2005, Lightfoot served as assistant associate
administrator for the Space Shuttle Program in the Office of Space
Operations at NASA Headquarters in Washington. His responsibilities
included space shuttle return to flight activities, budget
formulation and integration of shuttle infrastructure into NASA's
initiative calling for new exploration of the moon, Mars and
beyond. Other responsibilities included providing technical advice
and recommendations on readiness and execution of the shuttle
program, with a budget oversight of more than $3 billion.
In 2002, Lightfoot was named
director of the Propulsion Test Directorate at NASA's Stennis Space
Center near Bay St. Louis, Miss. He served as deputy director of
the organization beginning in 2001, until his appointment as
In 1999, Lightfoot joined Stennis as chief of propulsion test
operations, managing space shuttle main engine testing and multiple
NASA, Department of Defense and industry rocket engine test
programs. In 1998, he was named deputy division chief of Marshall's
propulsion test division.
Lightfoot began his NASA career at Marshall in
1989 as a test engineer and program manager for the space shuttle
main engine technology testbed program and the Russian RD-180
engine testing program for the Atlas launch vehicle program.
A native of Montevallo, AL, Lightfoot received a bachelor's
degree in mechanical engineering in 1986 from the University of
Alabama. In October 2007, he was named Distinguished Departmental
Fellow for the University of Alabama, Department of Mechanical
Engineering and selected as a University of Alabama College of
Engineering fellow in 2009. Lightfoot serves on the University of
Alabama Mechanical Engineering Advisory Board.
Lightfoot has received numerous awards during his NASA career,
including a NASA Outstanding Leadership medal in 2007 for
outstanding and exemplary leadership of the Shuttle Propulsion
Office and assuring safety for the shuttle's return to flight. In
2006, he was awarded the Presidential Rank Award for Meritorious
Executives -- the highest honor attainable for federal government