Spaceflight Insider

NASA names John Honeycutt new SLS Program Manager

Space Launch System Program Manager John Honeycutt NASA image posted on SpaceFlight Insider 1

NASA has tapped John Honeycutt to succeed Todd May as the SLS Program Manager. Image Credit: NASA

This past week, NASA named John Honeycutt manager for the agency’s Space Launch System (SLS) Program. Honeycutt succeeds Todd May, who in August was promoted to deputy director of NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC) in Huntsville, Ala.

“NASA has benefited from John’s management and leadership skills in a number of programs at Marshall over the years,” said MSFC Director Patrick Scheuermann. “I’m pleased he’ll be responsible for the continuing success of SLS, the next great vehicle to launch our human exploration space missions.”

Bill Gerstenmaier, NASA’s associate administrator for the Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate went on to explain that “John is an accomplished manager and I’m pleased he is assuming this new leadership role in the development of SLS as we continue taking great steps forward in the continuous human exploration of space and on our journey to Mars.”

As program manager, Honeycutt will lead a workforce of more than 4,200, with an annual budget of $1.7 billion, and will be responsible for SLS planning, procurement, development, testing, evaluation, production and operation.

SLS is intended to be the most powerful rocket ever built — capable of carrying astronauts in NASA’s Orion spacecraft on deep space missions, including to an asteroid and ultimately to Mars.

Honeycutt’s biographical information, as contained in SpaceFlight Insider’s Sept. 23 article, is as follows:

Honeycutt is a native of Huntsville, Ala., and graduated, in 1990, from the University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH) with a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering.

He worked for Rockwell International (Huntsville), from 1990 to 1996, providing main propulsion system and external tank engineering analysis and launch support for the Shuttle program.

From 1997 to 1999, he worked at Boeing North American (Huntsville) as an environmental and structural test engineer, and later as the lead test engineer.

Honeycutt joined NASA in 1999 and was assigned as lead engineer for the relocation of MC-1 (Fastrac) engine testing to Santa Susana Field Laboratories in California. And, in September 2000, he was assigned as Vehicle Propulsion System lead.

Honeycutt also served as NASA lead for the Space Shuttle External Tank (ET) Working Group Interface Team that closed all fault tree blocks associated with ET interfaces during the Columbia accident investigation.

And, in September 2004, he was named NASA lead engineer responsible for testing and certification of Shuttle “Return to Flight” External Tank (ET) redesigns.

In 2006, Honeycutt became deputy manager of the ET Project, and, in May 2010, he was promoted to manager of the ET Project Office.

Honeycutt first worked on SLS as deputy manager of the SLS Stages Element Office. After that, he served as SLS deputy chief engineer. And, in November 2013, he was named deputy SLS program manager.

Honeycutt has received numerous awards, including a NASA Exceptional Achievement Medal, a Space Flight Awareness Award, and a Silver Snoopy Award.


Scott earned both a Bachelor's Degree in public administration, and a law degree, from Samford University in Birmingham, Alabama. He currently practices law in the Birmingham suburb of Homewood. Scott first remembers visiting Marshall Space Flight Center in 1978 to get an up-close look at the first orbiter, Enterprise, which had been transported to Huntsville for dynamic testing. More recently, in 2006, he participated in an effort at the United States Space and Rocket Center (USSRC) to restore the long-neglected Skylab 1-G Trainer. This led to a volunteer position, with the USSRC curator, where he worked for several years maintaining exhibits and archival material, including flown space hardware. Scott attended the STS - 110, 116 and 135 shuttle launches, along with Ares I-X, Atlas V MSL and Delta IV NROL-15 launches. More recently, he covered the Atlas V SBIRS GEO-2 and MAVEN launches, along with the Antares ORB-1, SpaceX CRS-3, and Orion EFT-1 launches.

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