Taylor Stepping Down as Ball Aerospace Chief Exec

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WASHINGTON — David Taylor, president and chief executive of Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp., will retire at the end of March after more than 10 years at the helm of the $784 million company. He will be replaced by Robert Strain, currently Ball Aerospace’s chief operating officer and former director of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, the company said in a Feb. 4 press release.

Taylor has spent more than 29 years with Boulder, Colo.-based Ball Aerospace.

“Dave Taylor led a transformation of our aerospace business into an agile, high-performing aerospace and defense enterprise, guiding its entry into new customer agencies and growing our aerospace segment sales and profits significantly since 2002,” John A. Hayes, president and chief executive of Ball Corp., said in a statement. “This business has played an important role in Ball Corporation’s success over the past decade, and we thank Dave for his vision and leadership and wish him well in retirement.”

Strain, 56, joined Ball 11 months ago. Before coming to Goddard in 2008, he led the Space Department at the Johns Hopkins University’s Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Md., and had spent 10 years at Dulles, Va.-based satellite and rocket maker Orbital Sciences Corp., where he was executive vice president of space systems.

“Rob Strain’s extensive experience in the private, public and academic sectors, and his strong record of managing programs and cultivating relationships, will be key to continuing our tremendous growth trajectory,” Hayes said in the statement.

Ball is working on several big projects managed by Goddard, including the Joint Polar Satellite System (JPSS), the next generation of U.S. civil polar-orbiting weather satellites.

Ball is the prime contractor for the JPSS-1 spacecraft, which NASA is procuring for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Ball has a $248 million fixed-price contract to build JPSS-1, slated for launch in 2017, and a separate $82.4 million contract to build a clone of the Ozone Mapping and Profile Suite instrument now flying on NASA’s Suomi NPP Earth observing satellite for the upcoming mission.

Commercial Crew Official, Astronaut Leave NASA

Former astronauts Clayton Anderson and Brent Jett, the latter of whom was deputy program manager for NASA’s Commercial Crew Program, have left NASA, the agency announced Feb. 4 in separate press releases.

Jett, a Navy-trained aviator who joined NASA in 1992, had been deputy manager for the Commercial Crew Program since 2010. He left NASA in January, according to his official NASA bio.

Jett flew his fourth and most recent space mission in 2006 aboard the Space Shuttle Atlantis’ STS-115 mission. That mission marked the resumption of construction on the international space station, which had been halted after the loss of the Space Shuttle Columbia in 2003.

Before joining the Commercial Crew Program as deputy program manager, Jett was director of Flight Crew Operations at the Johnson Space Center in Houston. In that capacity, he oversaw the agency’s astronaut selection and training programs.

Anderson, an aeronautical engineer and physicist by training, joined NASA in 1983, according to his official agency bio. He was selected as an astronaut in 1998 and most recently flew in space in 2010 aboard the Space Shuttle Discovery on the STS-131 station resupply mission.

Anderson’s first spaceflight was in 2007. He flew to the international space station on the Space Shuttle Atlantis for a 152-day tour as flight engineer and mission scientist for Expedition 15.