NASA has named Todd May acting director of NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, as the agency continues the process of looking for a permanent director.

Patrick Scheuermann, who served as the Marshall director since September 2012, is retiring from the agency, effective Friday. His retirement caps a 27-year career with NASA that began in 1988 as a propulsion test engineer at the agency’s Stennis Space Center near Bay St. Louis, Mississippi.

“On behalf of the entire NASA family, I want to thank Patrick for his years of leadership and engineering ingenuity that’s helped this agency advance our journey to Mars,” said NASA Administrator Charles Bolden. “Patrick leaves Marshall in good hands, and I know Todd May’s experience and expert management skills will keep the center’s critical work on track.”

May was appointed Marshall deputy director in August, and previously served as manager of the Space Launch System Program since August 2011. May led the SLS Program through a series of milestones, including engine tests and a successful, in-depth critical design review. SLS, now under development, will be the most powerful rocket ever built, able to carry astronauts in NASA’s Orion spacecraft on deep space missions, including to an asteroid and ultimately on a journey to Mars.

May’s NASA career began in 1991, working in the Materials and Processes Laboratory at Marshall. He was deputy program manager of the Russian Integration Office in the International Space Station Program at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston in 1994, and worked on the team at Marshall that developed and launched the Gravity Probe B mission to test Einstein’s Theory of Relativity in 2004. That same year he assumed management of the Discovery and New Frontiers Programs, created to explore the solar system with frequent unmanned spacecraft missions.

May moved to NASA Headquarters in Washington in 2007 as a deputy associate administrator in the Science Mission Directorate. Returning to Marshall in June 2008, May was named Marshall’s associate director, Technical, a post he held until being named SLS program manager.

The SLS Program is managed at Marshall, one of NASA’s largest field installations, with almost 6,000 civil service and contractor employees, an annual budget of approximately $2.5 billion and a broad spectrum of science and technological missions.

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