Holly Ridings named as NASA’s new chief flight director
NASA’s human spaceflight operations are led by flight directors from the Mission Control Center at Johnson Space Center in Houston. The U.S. space agency just named a new chief flight director.
Director of Flight Operations Brian Kelly named Holly Ridings to the role that was previously held by Norm Knight since 2012. Knight is moving to the position of deputy director of Flight Operations. Ridings, who has been a flight director since 2005, is the first woman to lead the group that currently consists of 32 active flight directors and flight directors-in-training.
“Holly has proven herself a leader among a group of highly talented flight directors,” Kelly said in a Sept. 17, 2018, NASA news release. “I know she will excel in this unique and critical leadership position providing direction for the safety and success of human spaceflight missions. She will lead the team during exciting times as they adapt to support future missions with commercial partners and beyond low-Earth orbit.”
According to NASA, Ridings is from Amarillo, Texas, and has a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from Texas A&M. She joined the space agency in 1998 as a flight controller in the thermal operations group.
Since becoming a flight director, she has served as the lead flight director for a number of missions including the International Space Station’s Expedition 16 mission in 2007-2008, Space Shuttle mission STS-127 in 2009 and the first Dragon cargo mission to the ISS in 2012.
In her new role, she will manage the group of flight directors who are overseeing human spaceflight missions aboard the ISS, including the integration of the commercial crew spacecraft being developed by SpaceX and Boeing into the fleet of visiting vehicles that service the $100 billion orbiting complex, according to NASA.
Flight directors will also oversee Orion spacecraft missions to the Moon and the future Gateway station in lunar orbit as well as missions beyond Earth’s sphere of influence.
Video courtesy of NASA
Derek Richardson has a degree in mass media, with an emphasis in contemporary journalism, from Washburn University in Topeka, Kansas. While at Washburn, he was the managing editor of the student run newspaper, the Washburn Review. He also has a blog about the International Space Station, called Orbital Velocity. He met with members of the SpaceFlight Insider team during the flight of a United Launch Alliance Atlas V 551 rocket with the MUOS-4 satellite. Richardson joined our team shortly thereafter. His passion for space ignited when he watched Space Shuttle Discovery launch into space Oct. 29, 1998. Today, this fervor has accelerated toward orbit and shows no signs of slowing down. After dabbling in math and engineering courses in college, he soon realized his true calling was communicating to others about space. Since joining SpaceFlight Insider in 2015, Richardson has worked to increase the quality of our content, eventually becoming our managing editor. @TheSpaceWriter