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Alabamian, first female appointed as Marshall Spaceflight Center director as state’s lawmakers celebrate

NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine on Thursday named Alabamian Jody Singer as director of the agency’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville and Alabama lawmakers praised the historic appointment.

Singer, who has been the center’s deputy director since February 2016 and serving as acting director since July, is the first woman appointed to the important position. As Marshall’s chief executive, Singer will lead one of NASA’s largest field installations, with almost 6,000 civil service and contractor employees and an annual budget of approximately $2.8 billion.

Singer considers Hartselle, Ala., as home and is a graduate in Industrial Engineering from the University of Alabama.

“For me, it’s always been about the people. It’s an honor to lead Marshall Space Flight Center as we push the boundaries of human space exploration and shape America’s return to the Moon,” Singer said. “Marshall has unique capabilities and expertise that are critical to missions that will take humans deeper into the solar system than ever before.”

Members of Alabama’s Congressional delegation lauded the appointment in statements and social media posts.
“Jody Singer is an excellent choice to lead Marshall Spaceflight Center,” Senator Richard Shelby (R-Tuscaloosa) remarked in a press release.

“Her deep understanding of the Space Launch System and other critical NASA projects, along with her dedication to MSFC and the entire agency, make her the ideal candidate for this position. I look forward to working with her to continue prioritizing American space exploration,” Shelby added.

Congressman Mo Brooks (AL-5), whose district includes Huntsville, heaped praise on the selection of Singer and reiterated the importance of NASA to Alabama and the nation.

“I congratulate Jody on being appointed director of Marshall Space Flight Center,” Brooks said in a statement. “Marshall is one of NASA’s premier installations, and the center’s unique capabilities are essential to nearly every NASA mission.”

He continued, “With a career spanning 30 years at NASA, most recently as acting director of Marshall, Jody has the breadth of experience and extensive knowledge needed to lead the center during this exciting return to manned deep space exploration. A Hartselle, Alabama native and University of Alabama graduate, Jody is right at home at Marshall in the Tennessee Valley. I look forward to working closely with Director Singer to maintain and expand Marshall’s role in current and future missions, and I am pleased to have a partner at Marshall dedicated to maintaining America’s global preeminence in space.”

During her impressive 32-year NASA career, Singer has held leadership roles of increasing responsibility in human spaceflight, technology and science flight missions programs and projects.

Her experience in human spaceflight includes 25 years working in the Space Shuttle Program, where Singer was responsible for the development, testing, flight readiness, safety and performance of the shuttle’s propulsion elements. Her experience also includes Return to Flight activities following the space shuttle Columbia accident. She served as the first female project manager for the Reusable Solid Rocket Booster Project Office and as deputy manager in the Space Shuttle Propulsion Office as it successfully completed its mission and retirement.

From 2010 through 2012, she held deputy positions for three concurrent programs – the Space Shuttle Program, Ares and the start-up of the Space Launch System (SLS).

Singer has been recognized with numerous awards, including NASA Outstanding Leadership Medals and two Presidential Rank of Meritorious Executive Awards.  She also received the Space Flight Awareness Leadership Award in 2005 for inspiring the Shuttle Propulsion Office to strive for excellence and continuous improvement, along with the NASA Exceptional Service Medal in 1993.  Additionally, she was awarded the Silver Snoopy Award by the NASA astronaut corps and was named a Space Flight Awareness Launch Honoree.

“Jody’s deep management experience over three decades at the project, program and center levels will be a huge asset to Marshall’s critical work supporting NASA’s goals of returning to the Moon to stay,” NASA Administrator Bridenstine said. “Her proven leadership abilities and close connections to Marshall’s work and the human spaceflight community made her the right choice to lead Marshall at this pivotal time.”

Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn