Roy S. Estess, center director for NASA’s John C.
Stennis Space Center in Mississippi, today announced plans to
retire after 42 years in government service, 37 with NASA.
Administrator Sean O’Keefe named William (Bill) W. Parsons
Jr., the current Center Operations and Support Director at
Stennis, as Estess’ successor, effective August 25th.

“Roy joined NASA at the height of the Apollo program and has
played an instrumental role in the successful development of
the agency. He literally grew up with NASA and has been an
exemplary public servant and visionary manager throughout his
career,” said Administrator O’Keefe. “Throughout his career,
each time there was a need within the agency, Roy has been
there to answer the call. He’s been a true NASA statesman,
and America’s space program owes Roy a deep debt of

Estess first joined NASA in 1966 as a test engineer on the
Saturn V second-stage test program. He later served as head
of the Applications Engineering Office, deputy of the Earth
Resources Laboratory and director of the Regional
Applications Program. From 1980 to 1988, he served as
Stennis’ Deputy Director and was named Center Director in

In 1992, Estess was temporarily assigned to NASA Headquarters
in Washington as a special assistant to the Administrator and
served two consecutive NASA Administrators. From February
2001 to April 2002, Estess was temporarily assigned as acting
director of the NASA Johnson Space Center (JSC) in Houston.

“Through his entire career, Roy has been a steadying
influence at NASA,” added Administrator O’Keefe. “He’s a no-
nonsense manager and a straight shooter who knows how to cut
through a problem to find a solution. Roy’s leadership,
candor and friendship will be missed.”

Parsons is a veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps and decided to
join NASA after watching a space shuttle launch while on a
Florida vacation. He joined the Cape Canaveral Air Force
Station in 1986 and transferred to the NASA Kennedy Space
Center (KSC) in 1990.

Parsons met Estess in 1994 at KSC and decided to move to
Stennis in 1997 where he served as Chief of Operations for
all propulsion test operations. In 1998, Parsons was named
Deputy Director of JSC, where he was later reunited with
Estess. He moved back to Stennis in 2001.

Estess and Parsons were born just six miles apart in Pike
County, Miss. Estess graduated from Mississippi State
University in 1960 with a degree in aerospace engineering.
Parsons attended the University of Mississippi, where he
graduated with an engineering degree in 1979. Both men have
completed extensive graduate studies.

“Although they grew up a generation apart, both Roy and Bill
have roots in the same Mississippi community and both share a
deep commitment and love for this agency,” said Administrator
O’Keefe. “Both men are talented engineers, excellent
communicators and effective leaders. While I am sorry to see
Roy leave NASA, I am excited about the opportunity before
Bill and I know our colleagues at Stennis will give him their
full support.”

Stennis is NASA’s center for rocket propulsion testing and
Earth science remote-sensing applications. Stennis is
considered a unique federal city and is home to more than 30
federal, state, academic and private organizations.

Additional information about Stennis is available on the
Internet at:

A photograph of Estess and Parsons is available on the web