NASA employees Michael Leinbach and Charles Abner were recently
named to management positions within the Space Shuttle Program at Kennedy
Space Center, Fla.

Leinbach was officially named NASA’s Space Shuttle Launch Director
at KSC. He rejoins the Space Shuttle Program after completing two years in
support of the International Space Station. As Launch Director, Leinbach is
responsible for overall Shuttle launch countdown policy, planning and
executive activities. He will conduct and oversee the final readiness poll
of the KSC launch team from the firing rooms prior to liftoff.

“I’m looking forward to my new role in the Space Station construction
process,” said Leinbach. “Being involved with the preparation of Station
hardware and then helping it get off the ground and into orbit is a real

Though new to the position, Leinbach is no stranger to firing room
activities on launch day. He served as NASA Test Director beginning in 1988
and was named Shuttle Test Director in 1991. In that role, he was
responsible for conducting the terminal countdown and launch of 17 Shuttle
missions. He served as Assistant Launch Director for mission STS-101 in May
2000 before being appointed to the Launch Director position for recent
missions including STS-106, STS-92 and STS-97.

Charles Abner is NASA’s new Chief Engineer for the Shuttle
Processing Directorate at KSC. In this position he will be responsible for
all engineering aspects related to processing flight hardware elements and
facility/ground support equipment and for the integration of technical
decisions made by both engineering and management personnel before and
during launch.

Abner’s long and rewarding career with NASA at KSC began in 1967
when he served as an Apollo spacecraft ground station engineer. He joined
the Air Force in 1968, but returned to KSC in 1974 as part of the launch
processing team to build the Space Shuttle test and checkout hardware and

“The space program has long been an integral part of my life,” said Abner.
“Helping develop processes needed to ensure the success of the Shuttle
program is both exciting and challenging.”

During the early Space Shuttle flights, Abner supervised teams
responsible for the development of ground launch sequence software and the
ground application software. He served as Chief of Shuttle Project
Engineering Division at Vandenberg AFB, Calif., between 1985 and 1987, while
building a joint NASA and Air Force Shuttle launch team. In 1997 he was
assigned to the position of Assistant Launch Director, responsible for
assisting with the management and technical direction of the Shuttle