WASHINGTON — NASA Administrator Charles Bolden said Feb. 3 that Georgia Institute of Technology researcher Robert Braun had joined the U.S. space agency as chief technologist, serving as Bolden’s principal adviser and advocate on technology policy and programs.

Bolden made the announcement during an all-hands meeting at NASA headquarters here to discuss the mandate the agency was given to cancel the Moon-bound Constellation program and focus on developing breakthrough technologies for still-to-be-defined future space exploration missions.

Braun is a NASA Langley Research Center veteran who testified before the U.S. Congress last fall as the co-chairman of a National Research Council panel that called for re-establishing the NASA Institute of for Advanced Concepts (NIAC).

“Our nation needs to dream big, and large goals are exactly what our nation has come to expect of NASA,” Braun told the House Science and Technology space and aeronautics subcommittee during an Oct. 22 hearing.

NASA created NIAC in 1998 as a so-called virtual institute geared toward the study of concepts that had the potential to influence NASA missions 10 years to 40 years into the future. The Atlanta-based institute was shut down in 2007 amid broad cutbacks in NASA technology spending unrelated to the Constellation program.

Bolden also announced during the meeting that Glenn Research Center Director Woodrow Whitlow will be joining headquarters as associate administrator for mission support, a new position responsible for most NASA management operations, including human capital, budget, systems support and other cross-agency business, institutional and contract support functions.

NASA said in a press release that Whitlow would continue to serve as the director of the Cleveland-based Glenn Center until a successor is named.

Brian Berger is editor in chief of SpaceNews.com and the SpaceNews magazine. He joined SpaceNews.com in 1998, spending his first decade with the publication covering NASA. His reporting on the 2003 Space Shuttle Columbia accident was...