Space Shuttle Program Manager Decides to Leave Post

Press Release From: NASA HQ
Posted: Wednesday, April 23, 2003

Ronald D. Dittemore, a 26-year NASA veteran, today announced his intention to step aside as the Space Shuttle Program Manager at the Johnson Space Center in Houston to pursue other opportunities.

Dittemore, who has served as the Shuttle program manager for more than four years, will remain in his current position until the Columbia Accident Investigation Board finishes its investigation and a complete "Return to Flight" path has been established.

"My decision to leave the Space Shuttle Program has been a very difficult one, but it is a decision that I began struggling with long before the tragedy of the Columbia accident," Dittemore said. "The timing of my departure is based on what I believe will allow for the smoothest management transition possible, as the pace of work to return the Shuttle to flight begins to ramp up."

Dittemore made the announcement in Washington with Michael Kostelnik, Deputy Associate Administrator for the Space Shuttle and International Space Station Programs. Kostelnik praised Dittemore's dedication and professionalism.

"For more than a quarter-century, Ron has been an integral part of the Space Shuttle program. He helped create many of the processes and procedures we follow today," added Kostelnik. "I'm pleased Ron has decided to stay until our Return to Flight efforts are well established, and I wish him the best as he begins a new chapter in his life."

Dittemore first joined NASA in 1977 as a propulsion systems engineer, responsible for the development and implementation of operations procedures for the Space Shuttle orbital maneuvering and reaction control systems.

In 1985, he was selected as a Space Shuttle Flight Director, responsible for the overall leadership and direction of Space Shuttle missions, as the leader of the flight control team located in the Mission Control Center.

In 1993, he joined the Space Shuttle Program Office as the Deputy Manager for the Space Shuttle Program Integration and Operations Office, responsible for the integration, engineering and operation of all Shuttle payloads. He also served as the Manager, Space Shuttle Program Integration, where he was responsible for the overall integration and conduct of Space Shuttle flights, including serving as chairman of the flight Mission Management Team.

In 1996, Dittemore was selected as the Manager, Space Shuttle Vehicle Engineering Office, where he directed the design, development, modification, certification, and test of the orbiter vehicle, flight software, and flight crew equipment. He was selected as Space Shuttle Program Manager in 1999. As Manager, Space Shuttle Program, Dittemore is responsible for the overall management, integration and operations of the Space Shuttle Program. This includes development and operations of all Space Shuttle elements, as well as the facilities, required to support ground processing and flight operations.

His awards include two Senior Executive Presidential Rank Awards for Distinguished Executive and Meritorious Executive; the NASA Outstanding Leadership Medal; the NASA Exceptional Service Medal; and Johnson Space Center's highest award, the Certificate of Commendation.

Dittemore graduated in 1970 from Medical Lake High School in Medical Lake, Washington; received a bachelor of science in aeronautical and astronautical engineering from the University of Washington in 1974 and a Master of Science degree in aeronautical and astronautical engineering from University of Washington in 1975.

A memorandum from Dittemore, announcing his decision to leave, is available on the Internet at:

For information about human space flight, the Space Shuttle and International Space Station programs on the Internet, visit:

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