MSFC Director Goldman Leaving NASA for Aerojet

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WASHINGTON — Arthur “Gene” Goldman is leaving his post as acting director of NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center  (MSFC) in Huntsville, Ala., to become head of Southeast Space Operations for Aerojet effective Aug. 6, the Sacramento, Calif., rocket-engine maker said.

Aerojet announced Goldman’s hiring in a July 9 press release. A NASA press release said Goldman will leave the agency Aug. 3.

Robin Henderson, Marshall’s associate director, will succeed Goldman as acting director, NASA said in its release. Goldman had been with NASA since 1990. He joined the agency as a project engineer in Marshall’s space shuttle project integration office.

Goldman has been running Marshall since early March when then-director Robert Lightfoot left Huntsville for Washington to become NASA’s associate administrator, the agency’s highest ranking civil servant position.

The Marshall Space Flight Center has had a leading role in NASA rocket development since the beginning of the U.S. space program. It is currently managing design and development of the Space Launch System (SLS), the congressionally mandated heavy-lift rocket NASA plans to use for launching astronauts beyond Earth orbit.

Aerojet has been pushing for a bigger role in the SLS program. Last year, the company announced it was partnering with Huntsville-based Teledyne Brown to build liquid-rocket engines for customers including NASA.

NASA has so far announced two SLS flights, one in 2017 and one in 2021. In these missions, SLS will send the Lockheed Martin-built Orion capsule around the Moon and back. Only the second flight will be crewed. The SLS variant that will fly these missions will use existing hardware: five-segment solid boosters developed by Alliant Techsystems for the canceled Constellation program and leftover space shuttle main engines made by Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne.

Subsequent SLS configurations will require new boosters and more space shuttle main engines — SLS will not reuse its core engines. Julie Van Kleeck, Aerojet’s vice president of space and launch systems, has said that Aerojet wants to provide both of these propulsion systems.