Space industry and government leaders in Huntsville, Ala., are looking on the bright side of the departure of NASA Marshall Space Flight Center Director Robert Lightfoot, who is moving to Washington to serve as the agency’s acting associate administrator with the expectation that the position will become permanent, The Huntsville Times reports.

It means “someone who understands space transportation is now in a key leadership spot,” said Steve Cook, director of space technology development for Huntsville-based Dynetics Inc.

Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle agreed, saying in a statement: “Robert has been an asset to the Marshall Space Flight Center, and I know he will continue to advocate for Huntsville.”

Early reaction in Huntsville was also positive to the elevation of Lightfoot’s deputy, Gene Goldman, to the post of acting Marshall director, The Times reported.