NASA Names New Highest-Ranking Civil Servant, Head of Exploration  

NASA Administrator Invoice Nelson introduced Wednesday Jim Free’s promotion to affiliate administrator for the company at NASA Headquarters in Washington, efficient when his predecessor Bob Cabana retires on Sunday, Dec. 31. Since September 2021, Free has served because the affiliate administrator for NASA’s Exploration Techniques Improvement Mission Directorate (ESDMD).  

Nelson additionally introduced Free’s deputy, Catherine Koerner, will succeed him as the following head of the mission directorate. 

“So many people within the NASA household have labored with Jim and have been impressed by his character and mind. Pam, Bob, and I strongly imagine that his wealth of expertise and experience will carry distinctive steering and perspective to our management staff in his new function as affiliate administrator, enhancing our collective efforts towards attaining daring targets for the good thing about all humanity,” mentioned Administrator Nelson.Cathy’s expertise because the ESDMD deputy affiliate administrator – together with her management in establishing and defining future area exploration architectures whereas overseeing the event of our deep area transportation techniques – has ready her for this new function as affiliate administrator for ESDMD. Cathy’s management will assist NASA proceed to increase humanity’s attain within the cosmos. Congratulations, Jim and Cathy!”  

As affiliate administrator, Free will turn out to be NASA’s third highest-ranking govt, in addition to highest-ranking civil servant. This function serves as a senior advisor to Nelson and Deputy Administrator Pam Melroy. When he assumes his function, Free additionally will lead the company’s 10 heart administrators, and 5 mission directorate affiliate directors at NASA Headquarters. He’ll act because the company’s chief working officer for greater than 18,000 staff and an annual finances of greater than $25 billion.

Earlier than his appointment to affiliate administrator of Exploration Techniques Improvement in 2021, Free spent a number of years in numerous personal sector roles. He left NASA in 2017 after serving because the company’s deputy affiliate administrator for technical within the Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters.  

Previous to becoming a member of NASA Headquarters, he labored his approach as much as heart director at NASA’s Glenn Analysis Middle in Ohio, the place he was answerable for planning, organizing, and directing the actions required in undertaking the missions assigned to the middle.  Free has served quite a lot of roles at NASA facilities since starting his profession in 1990 on the Goddard Area Flight Middle in Greenbelt, Maryland. 

A local of Northeast Ohio, Free earned his bachelor’s diploma in aeronautics from Miami College in Oxford, Ohio, and his grasp’s diploma in area techniques engineering from Delft College of Know-how within the Netherlands.  

Free is the recipient of the Presidential Rank Award, NASA Distinguished Service Medal, NASA Excellent Management Medal, NASA Distinctive Service Medal, NASA Important Achievement Medal, and quite a few different awards.  

In her new function because the affiliate administrator for the Exploration Techniques Improvement Mission Directorate, Koerner will assume accountability for the event of NASA’s Moon to Mars structure, defining and managing the techniques growth for Artemis missions, and planning for built-in deep area exploration method. 

As deputy affiliate administrator for the mission directorate, Koerner supplies management and administration of human spaceflight growth and operations associated to NASA’s Moon and Mars exploration targets. She presently is answerable for establishing and defining future area exploration architectures whereas overseeing growth of recent area transportation techniques and supporting capabilities which might be vital for human-led deep area exploration and scientific analysis.  

Previous to her positions at NASA Headquarters, Koerner was NASA’s Orion Program supervisor at NASA Johnson, the place she was answerable for oversight of design, growth, and testing of the Orion spacecraft. Earlier than main the Orion Program, Koerner served because the director of Human Well being and Efficiency Directorate, specializing in enhancing crew well being and efficiency and mitigating dangers related to human spaceflight.  

As a former NASA flight director, Koerner led groups in NASA’s mission management throughout area shuttle and Worldwide Area Station missions. She additionally beforehand held a number of management positions throughout the area station program throughout its meeting section and managed NASA’s cargo resupply companies contracts for it, serving to foster a industrial area trade in low Earth orbit. Earlier than Johnson, she labored at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California.

Koerner earned her Bachelor of Science and Grasp of Science levels in aeronautical and astronautical engineering from the College of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She has obtained quite a few awards together with a Presidential Rank Award in 2019, two Excellent Management Medals (2006, 2013), NASA’s Distinctive Service Medal (2007), Johnson’s Middle Director Commendation (2017) and quite a few Group Achievement Awards. 

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Jackie McGuinness / Cheryl Warner 
Headquarters, Washington 
202-358-1600 
jackie.mcguinness@nasa.gov / cheryl.m.warner@nasa.gov 

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