Written by NASA MSFC Center Director Art Stephenson. Originally published in the “Marshall Star”

Joe Rothenberg,associate administrator for the Office of
Space Flight,has announced he will retire from NASA on
Dec 15. I have had the privilege of working for Joe for the
past three years. Joe has been responsible for the Space Shuttle
and International Space Station Programs – two of NASA’ s
biggest programs headed by the Johnson Space Center in
Houston and supported by Marshall.

Joe has been a great mentor to me as I have tried to learn to
be a government employee and manager. Three-and-a-half years
ago, I got a call from Joe suggesting that I consider coming to
Marshall as Center director. I remember the call very well as I
said,”Joe,you have to be kidding. ” I was surprised to learn he
was very serious.

Joe has never wavered in his steadfast support for Marshall.
He has consistently been there to offer me advice and seriously
address our concerns. In 1999 he led the charge to gain authority
for Marshall to finally,after years of downsizing,be able to hire
critical skills at a time when we were getting dangerously close
to having inadequate staff to address our missions.

Joe was always been there when we called on him to come to
the Center and work with us on issues and to celebrate our
successes. Joe never missed our Annual Awards Ceremony,and
he was here when we celebrated our 40th anniversary and when
we celebrated the one-year successful operation of Chandra.

Photo by Doug Stoffer, NASA/MSFC.
Marshall Center Director Art Stephenson, left, and Joe Rothenberg unveil the portrait of
Stephenson during one of many trips Rothenberg made to the Marshall Center.

I can honestly say that I have never worked for a person

whom I enjoyed working for more. Joe was there to help and
there to move the Agency forward.

On Joe’ s watch,the Office of Space Flight has accomplished
a great deal. With Joe’ s oversight we have repeatedly (success-
fully)flown the Space Shuttle – no small achievement consider-ing
the many challenges we have heard about in getting ready to
fly each mission. Every Shuttle sitting on the launch pad is
uniquely different. One of Marshall’ s proudest moments was the
successful launch and deployment of the Chandra X-Ray Obser-vatory.
Joe was a great help in offering advice as we wrestled
with many challenges leading up to our launch.

We have also seen the build up of the International Space
Station during Joe’ s time as head of the
Office of Space Flight. Today the Station
flies overhead with a permanent crew of
three – the third brightest star in the
evening sky. This Space Station is the
most complex spacecraft ever built and it
was built on orbit one piece at a time. I
think we will look back on the construction
and operation of the Space Station as one
of the greatest achievements in space. Joe
was there supporting the team of civil
servants and contractors that made it

Joe’ s greatest strength,I believe,is his
constant support of the NASA team,with a
background and knowledge that allowed
him to make the right decisions.
Thanks Joe,for being a great leader/
mentor/boss. We will miss you.