NASA fills top job at Marshall Space Flight Center

Wednesday - 9/26/2012, 3:35pm EDT

NASA announced several leadership changes including two promotions among its top administrators this week.

Robert Lightfoot will take over as the permanent associate administrator at NASA headquarters in Washington, D.C. Patrick Scheuermann will become director of the Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala. And Richard Gilbrech will become the new director of the John C. Stennis Space Center near Bay St. Louis, Miss.

"Robert, Patrick and Rick are three of NASA's finest public servants who will continue to play key roles in our agency's future," NASA Administrator Charles Bolden said in a written statement. "America is fortunate to have three such talented leaders assuming these important jobs at a pivotal time for NASA and space exploration."

All three assignments are effective immediately, NASA said.

Lightfoot has served as acting associate administrator since March. He is the agency's highest-ranking civil servant and is responsible for oversight and integration of NASA efforts in space flight, science and aeronautics. He started at NASA as a test engineer for the space shuttle engine technology test bed program, NASA said.

Scheuermann took over as director of the Stennis Space Center in 2010 and oversaw the agency's rocket propulsion testing. He previously served at Stennis as deputy director and associate director. He joined NASA in 1988 as a propulsion test engineer and has worked on projects like the re-usable launch vehicles program, the space agency said.

At Marshall, Scheuermann will take over for Robin Henderson, who has overseen the flight center since director Gene Goldman retired in August.

Gilbrech will replace Scheuermann at Stennis, where he is currently the deputy director. His background is also in propulsion testing and he served as chief of the propulsion test engineering division at Stennis. He previously led the Exploration Systems Mission Directorate in Washington and served as deputy of the Engineering and Safety Center at Langley Research Center in Hampton, Va.

All three men have earned the Presidential Rank Award of Meritorious executive and agency medals for outstanding leadership, NASA said.