Retired aerospace executive Gerald W. Smith has been named executive
director of the National Space Science and Technology Center (NSSTC),
according to Dr. Ron Greenwood, director of the Alabama Space Science and
Technology Alliance.

Smith retired last summer as president of ATK Thiokol Propulsion in Brigham
City, Utah, and moved back to Huntsville. He is a native of Albertville,
Ala., and worked as a manager of the solid rocket booster program at NASA’s
Marshall Space Flight Center from 1987 to 1989.

He also served as deputy director at NASA’s Stennis Space Center. This
Mississippi-based center is responsible for NASA’s rocket propulsion
testing, and partnering with industry to develop and implement remote
sensing technology. Smith also served for three years as director of
research laboratories for the Georgia Technology Research Institute.

The 64-year-old aerospace engineer said he was enjoying retirement when he
was contacted about the NSSTC opening. “This has been the only opening I
seriously considered since retiring, but working with the researchers really
made this a rare opportunity that I didn’t want to pass up.”

Smith quickly numbered important opportunities he sees to expand the
center’s presence:

“One, I envision a closer partnership with all of Alabama’s research
universities in submitting joint proposals and working collaboratively on
research projects to leverage the state’s capabilities. Two, there are many
high tech industries throughout the state that provide an opportunity to
form alliances to conduct joint research in bringing new ideas and products
to the market. Three, I believe we need to look more closely at the research
needs of the Army at Redstone Arsenal. The research capabilities of the
NSSTC and the Alabama research universities should provide an opportunity to
support programs at Redstone.”

“We are delighted Gerald Smith is the new director of the National Space
Science and Technology Center,” said Dave King, Marshall Center Director.
“He is a proven leader with a history of significant accomplishments. The
NSSTC is a unique institution with expertise and diverse partnerships in
research ranging from space sciences to weather systems right here on Earth.
I’m confident that under Gerald’s leadership, we will see outstanding
results from the scientists and engineers dedicated to this research.”

As president of ATK Thiokol. Smith was responsible for leading the company’s
development and production of solid rocket motors in all vehicle payload
classes for American and international space launch markets. The company is
the world’s largest producer of solid rocket motors, including the reusable
solid rocket motor aboard NASA’s space shuttle and the Titan IVB solid
rocket motor upgrade.

The National Space Science and Technology Center is a research organization
that conducts cutting-edge research in various scientific and engineering
disciplines, such as atmospheric science, optics, biotechnology, information
technology, materials science, propulsion, and space science.

The center also fosters the education of the next generation of scientists
and engineers. Undergraduate and graduate students participate in the
cooperative research, and experience is provided for educators.

The NSSTC is a partnership between NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center and
the Alabama Space Science and Technology Alliance, a consortium of Alabama’s
research universities. The NSSTC is located in Huntsville, Ala., adjacent to
The University of Alabama in Huntsville.