Kathy Lueders become first female head of NASA’s Human Space Flight Program

Kathy Lueders was a commercial crew manager and has been directing NASA’s efforts to send astronauts to space on private spacecraft since 2014.

Kathy Lueders
Kathy Lueders

Kathy Lueders has become the new Associate Administrator of HEO- Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate. This makes her the first female head of the human space flight program. NASA Administrator, Jim Bridenstine announced the news on June 12, 2020.

Lueders was a commercial crew manager and has been directing NASA’s efforts to send astronauts to space on private spacecraft since 2014. Kathy Lueders oversaw the inaugural private crewed flight DEMO-2 from the Kennedy Space Centre in Florida in May 2020.

In a press release by NASA, it has been informed that the appointment will come into effect immediately. Steve Stitch will be replacing Lueders as the Commercial Crew Program Manager while Ken Bowersox will return to his role as HEO deputy associate administrator.

Jim Bridenstine shared tweeted the news and mentioned that Kathy Lueders successfully managed both the commercial crew and commercial cargo programs and is the right person for the new position.

NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine on the appointment of Kathy Lueders:

NASA Administrator, Jim Bridenstine mentioned that Kathy gave us the passion and extraordinary experience that we need to continue to move forward with Artemis and in our goal of landing the first woman and first man on the moon by 2024.

He further mentioned that Kathy Lueders has a deep interest in developing commercial markets in space as her initial work on the space shuttle program. From commercial Cargo and commercial crew, Lueders successfully and safely helped to push to expand the US’s industrial base. She is the right person to extend the space economy to the lunar vicinity and to achieve the ambitious goals that we have been given.

Bridenstine thanked Ken Bowersox and the entire HEO team for supporting Kathy in making commercial crew a success. He also assured that the support to Lueders will continue as she moves out in her new role.

Kathy Lueders in NASA:

Kathy Lueders has a Bachelor of Business Administration in Finance from the University of New Mexico. She also has a Bachelor and Masters of Science in Industrial Engineering from New Mexico State University.

Lueders began her career in NASA in 1992 at the White Sands Test Facility in New Mexico as a Manager of Reactions Control Systems Depots and Shuttle Orbital Maneuvering System.

Later she moved on to the International Space Station Program, where she served as a transportation integration manager. She also led commercial cargo resupply services to the ISS.

She was responsible for NASA oversight of international partner spacecraft visiting the ISS. It included the H-II Transfer vehicle of Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, Automated Transfer Vehicle of European Space Agency, and Soyuz and Progress spacecraft of the Russian Space Agency Roscosmos.  

In 2013, Kathy  Lueders went to Kennedy as acting Commercial Crew Program Manager and in 2014 she was selected as the head of the office.

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