HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – David King, director of NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., today named Robert Lightfoot as the new deputy director of the center. Lightfoot replaces Charles Chitwood who has accepted a position in private industry. Since October 2005, Lightfoot has served as director of the Shuttle Propulsion Office, where he is responsible for the manufacture, assembly and operation of the primary Shuttle propulsion elements.

“Robert Lightfoot is an outstanding leader who has the experience and expertise we need at the Marshall Center to continue to be a key player in NASA’s space exploration mission,” said King.

Lightfoot began his NASA career at Marshall in 1989 as a test engineer and program manager for the Space Shuttle Main Engine technology test bed program and the Russian RD-180 engine testing program for the Atlas launch vehicle program. Since then, he has served in leadership positions at the Marshall Center, Stennis Space Center in Bay St. Louis, Miss., and NASA Headquarters in Washington.

In 1998, Lightfoot was named deputy division chief of Marshall’s Propulsion Test Division. He joined the Stennis Space Center in 1999 as Chief of Propulsion Test Operations where he managed Space Shuttle Main Engine testing and multiple NASA, Department of Defense, and industry rocket engine test programs. He was named director of the Stennis Propulsion Test Directorate in 2002. He served as deputy director of the organization beginning in 2001, until his appointment as director. From 2003 to 2005, he was assistant associate administrator for the Space Shuttle Program, Office of Space Flight, at NASA Headquarters. Reporting directly to the deputy associate administrator for International Space Station and Space Shuttle Program, Office of Space Flight, he was responsible and accountable for providing technical advice and recommendations on the readiness, execution, and initial transition and retirement of the Space Shuttle Program.

A native of Montevallo, Ala., Lightfoot received a bachelor of science degree in mechanical engineering in 1986 from the University of Alabama. He has received numerous awards including a NASA Exceptional Achievement Medal, a Silver Snoopy Award, a Space Flight Leadership Recognition Award, and several group achievement and special service awards. In 2006, he was awarded the Presidential Rank Award for Meritorious Executives – the highest honor attainable for federal government work.

Lightfoot and his wife, Caroline, and their two children, Kelsey and Haley, live in Huntsville.

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