Mark Geyer named director of NASA’s Johnson Space Center
NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas, is getting a new director: Mark Geyer. He will be succeeding the current director, Ellen Ochoa, when she retires on May 25, 2018, after a 30-year career at the U.S. space agency.
The selection was announced by NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine on May 14, 2018. Geyer will lead more than 10,000 civil service and contractor employees, the space agency said, which includes those at well-known facilities such as the Christopher C. Kraft Jr. Mission Control Center, which overseas U.S. human spaceflight missions, including American activities aboard the International Space Station. Additionally, the center manages operations at White Sands Test Facility near Las Cruces, New Mexico.
“Mark brings with him almost three decades of distinguished NASA leadership experience at the program, center and headquarters levels—he’s managed and he’s worked his way through the ranks and knows what it’s going to take to get our astronauts back to the Moon and on to Mars,” Bridenstine said in a NASA news release. “Johnson has been NASA’s home base for astronauts and mission control throughout our history, and Mark is eminently qualified to carry on this historic legacy.”
Bridenstine also thanked Ochoa, who is a former NASA astronaut, for her years of service. She was the first Hispanic woman to fly into space when she launched aboard Space Shuttle Discovery’s STS-56 mission in 1993. Over a total of four spaceflights, she logged more than 1,000 hours in orbit, according to her space agency bio. After retiring from being an astronaut in 2007, she moved on to serve as deputy director of the Johnson Space Center before becoming its director in January 2013.
“Her legacy and contributions to this center and to NASA are timeless,” Bridenstine said. “She will be missed.”
As for Geyer, who has a bachelor’s degree in aeronautics engineering and master’s degree in aeronautics from Purdue University, he is currently the acting deputy associate administrator for Technical for the Human Explorations and Operations Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters in Washington, according to the space agency, a position he assumed on Oct. 1, 2017. Before that, he was deputy center director at Johnson Space Center.
According to NASA, Geyer began his career at the space agency in 1990 as a systems engineer for the Lunar and Mars Exploration Office. In 1999, he became an increment manager for the International Space Station program. In 2000, he was manager of the ISS Integration Office and was responsible for the definition of the outpost’s assembly sequence. From 2004 to 2007, he was deputy program manager of the now-canceled Constellation Program and was the manager of the Orion Program from 2007 until accepting the deputy center director position in 2015.
“It’s an honor to be appointed to lead the men and women of this proud center,” Geyer said in a NASA news release. “The Johnson Space Center has unique capabilities that are critical to NASA’s ability to execute our mission to take humans farther into the solar system, and I look forward to working with each and every one of you on the ambitious tasks ahead.”
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 website about human spaceflight called Orbital Velocity.