Spaceflight Insider

May tapped as Deputy Director of NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center

Todd May NASA image posted on SpaceFlight Insider

Todd May. Photo Credit: NASA

The head of NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) program has been selected to succeed Teresa Vanhooser as the deputy director of the space agency’s Marshall Space Flight Center located in Huntsville, Alabama. The announcement was made on Tuesday, Aug. 25, and noted that the change is being made as Vanhooser is retiring from NASA after a career with the agency that has spanned some 35 years.

Vanhooser had served in the role of deputy director since being selected in November of 2012; May has been the head of SLS since August of 2011.

May has guided SLS through many of the program’s milestones, including a critical design review, which took place last month (July 2015). May was appointed to this new role by the Center’s Director Patrick Scheuermann.

Given that the SLS program is managed out of MSFC and the fact that May managed the program for an extended period of time, his appointment to the position is a natural extension of his career to date.

Orbital ATK QM-1 test fire Utah Space Launch System Program Manager Todd May photo credit Jason Rhian SpaceFlight Insider

NASA’s SLS Program Manager, Todd May, during the March 2015 Qualification Motor 1 test firing. Photo Credit: Jason Rhian / SpaceFlight Insider

This recent promotion is just the latest step for May, who had started with the space agency in 1991 at MSFC. Working as an engineer at the Materials and Processes Laboratory, he was involved in an array of different roles with a focus on the agency’s space-related mission directorates.

Three years after joining NASA in 1994, May moved to NASA’s Johnson Space Center located in Houston, Texas. While there, he served as the deputy manager of the Russian Integration Office for the International Space Station program.

Four years later he found himself back at MSFC managing the integration, launch and deployment of the “Quest” airlock that was sent to the orbiting laboratory in July of 2001.

May assumed a wide range of roles with the Discovery, New Frontiers, and other programs. His work on what, parts of, would become SLS, began in 2006 when he was selected to be the associate program manager for NASA’s Constellation Program.

“Todd May is an experienced leader with a depth of knowledge of NASA programs and projects in multiple directorates – science, technology and human exploration – that well prepares him to serve as Marshall’s deputy director.  Most recently, he’s built a very capable SLS team,” Scheuermann told SpaceFlight Insider. The SLS team has met all the milestones in front of it, including its in-depth critical design review to deliver a mature design for a safe, sustainable and evolvable launch vehicle that will meet the agency’s goals and missions of the future. While he leaves the SLS position behind, he will continue to further NASA’s exploration goals in his new Center leadership post. ”

In his new role as MSFC’s deputy administrator, May will help oversee one of the U.S. space agency’s largest field installations. Almost 6,000 civil service and contractors are affiliated with the center.

Marshall Space Flight Center has an annual budget of approximately $2.5 billion – roughly one-seventh NASA’s current annual budget.

“I’m confident that Todd will apply the excellent leadership skills he’s demonstrated as SLS manager to the entire spectrum of space exploration, science and technology missions Marshall manages or supports for NASA,” Scheuermann said. “With more than two decades of NASA experience, Todd is well prepared for this next assignment.”

John Honeycutt, SLS’ deputy manager will serve as the program’s acting SLS Program Manager until the position can be filled.


Jason Rhian spent several years honing his skills with internships at NASA, the National Space Society and other organizations. He has provided content for outlets such as: Aviation Week & Space Technology,, The Mars Society and Universe Today.

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Congratulations Todd!

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