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Leadership at Johnson Space Center

Published by Sigurd De Keyser on Wed Nov 30, 2005 4:45 am
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by Anthony Young; On November 7, 2005, NASA named Michael L. Coats as the new director of the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas. He becomes the ninth director of this high-profile center. In 1962, several years after the formation of NASA, the Manned Spacecraft Center was established in Houston. It was known by that name for more than a decade, when it was renamed the Johnson Space Center in 1973 after former president Lyndon B. Johnson. During the first 20 years of its existence, there had only been two directors of the center: Dr. Robert R. Gilruth, who served from March 1961 to January 1972, and Dr. Christopher C. Kraft, who served from January 1972 to August 1982. Under the skilled leadership of Gilruth and Kraft, the MSC experienced some of the greatest challenges as well as achievements in manned space flight.

Many spaceflight veterans today would say unequivocally that selecting Dr. Gilruth to be the MSC’s first director was a deciding factor in America’s amazing success in the first decade in space, overseeing America’s manned space programs of Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo. Gilruth’s achievements and qualifications are too numerous to list here, but there could have been no finer choice of an individual to lead this pivotal NASA center at such a crucial time. When Chris Kraft succeeded him in 1972, he had the highest praise for his mentor while serving as the deputy director of MSC. “Gilruth’s management style developed the best minds in the space program into the finest organization of its time,” Kraft stated in August 2000, when Gilruth passed away. “There were many heroes during the early days of the space program, but Bob Gilruth was the most respected of them all and, particularly, by those who knew what it took to reach the goals that were established. Personally, I had a higher regard for Gilruth than any other person in my lifetime.” Read more at The Space Review.

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