Shireman to replace Suffredini as space station program manager
NASA announced on Wednesday, August 5, the selection of Kirk Shireman as the new manager of the agency’s International space Station (ISS) program. Shireman replaces Mike Suffredini who is stepping down after holding the position for 10 years. Shireman has served as the deputy director of NASA’s Johnson Space Center since 2013.
“Kirk brings considerable space station experience to this new leadership role. He will manage the overall development, integration and operation of the program,” said William Gerstenmaier, associate administrator for NASA’s Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate. “As program manager, Kirk will work directly with international partners to ensure safe and reliable operation of the orbiting laboratory, and foster continued scientific research that benefits humanity and helps prepare the agency for its journey to Mars.”
Shireman has extensive experience in terms of the space station itself having been the chair of the ISS Mission Management Team. This followed his time overseeing a number of the outpost’s subsystem offices. He has also worked on NASA’s Space Shuttle Program.
Shireman was awarded NASA’s Exceptional Achievement Medal, Silver Snoopy award in 1990 and Presidential Rank Award, which he received in 2010. He has been recognized by civilian organizations as well with the National Space Club giving him the Eagle Manned Mission Award for his efforts with the orbiting laboratory.
Shireman earned a bachelor’s degree in aerospace engineering from Texas A&M University. He started his career with the agency in 1985. The person he is replacing has a similar level of education and experience with NASA.
Suffredini holds a bachelor’s degree in aerospace engineering from the University of Texas at Austin. He joined NASA in January of 1989. Since that time, he rose steadily up the ranks within NASA until being appointed the head of the station program in 2005.
“During Mike’s tenure, the international project successfully completed construction and transitioned into a fully functional microgravity laboratory,” Gerstenmaier said. “Under his leadership, the station opened avenues for a new commercial marketplace in space and established a platform for groundbreaking research.”
The orbiting outpost, which has had segments in orbit since 1998, is a joint effort of some 16 different partner nations. From 1998 until 2011 NASA’s fleet of Shuttle orbiters were the predominate delivery vehicle for the components of the roughly 239 foot (72.8 meters) long station.
At present, there are five different types of spacecraft that service the ISS. Russia’s crewed Soyuz and automated Progress vehicles, U.S. commercial companies Orbital ATK and SpaceX Antares and Dragon spacecraft and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency’s HTV. The station is currently scheduled to remain on orbit until at least 2024.
Jim Sharkey is a lab assistant, writer and general science enthusiast who grew up in Enid, Oklahoma, the hometown of Skylab and Shuttle astronaut Owen K. Garriott. As a young Star Trek fan he participated in the letter-writing campaign which resulted in the space shuttle prototype being named Enterprise.
While his academic studies have ranged from psychology and archaeology to biology, he has never lost his passion for space exploration. Jim began blogging about science, science fiction and futurism in 2004.
Jim resides in the San Francisco Bay area and has attended NASA Socials for the Mars Science Laboratory Curiosity rover landing and the NASA LADEE lunar orbiter launch.