- Press Release
- August 7, 2022
Goddard Center Director Robert Strain Announces Departure from Agency
NASA Goddard Space Flight Center Director Robert Strain announced he will leave the agency on March 4, 2012, to take a position in private industry.
Strain was named Director of Goddard in August 2008. During this three and a half year tenure, Strain oversaw the preparation and launch of a number of ground-breaking scientific spacecraft, including the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, which has discovered aspects of the moon and its history never before detected, the Solar Dynamics Observatory, a quantum jump in the ability to monitor and understand our life-giving sun, and the Suomi NPP mission, the first satellite designed to collect critical data to improve short-term weather forecasts and increase understanding of long-term climate change.
Strain also directed Goddard’s role supporting NASA’s human spaceflight program, including the final Space Shuttle servicing mission to the Hubble Space Telescope, the Express Logistics Carriers delivered for use on the International Space Station, and a path-finding payload aboard the final Shuttle flight called the Robotic Refueling Mission to demonstrate tools and techniques that could some day be used to service satellites operating in low-earth or geostationary orbits.
Strain was instrumental in the re-planning for one of the agency’s flagship astronomy missions, the James Webb Space Telescope, that will observe the early universe at a time when stars and galaxies were just beginning to form. He also worked to restructure the next generation Joint Polar Satellite System, or JPSS, a joint NASA-NOAA program that is the civilian component of the former National Polar-orbiting Operational Environmental Satellite System.
While leading Goddard’s Greenbelt, Md. facility, Strain also oversaw special orbital and suborbital missions managed by Goddard’s Wallops Flight Facility (WFF) on Virginia’s eastern shore. He drove the planning for WFF’s future role as the launch site for Orbital Sciences’ Antares program which will help usher in a new era of commercial transportation to the International Space Station and other destinations in low-Earth orbit.
In addition to his stewardship over technical activities and scientific missions, Strain oversaw the Center’s bid and proposal processes that led to Goddard’s successful selection to supply instruments and provide critical program management responsibilities for the MAVEN and OSIRIS-REx missions. These missions, along with others currently in development including the Global Precipitation Measurement mission, the Landsat Data Continuity Mission, and the Magnetospheric Multiscale Mission, will ensure the Center’s continued vitality and prominence.
During his tenure as the Director, Goddard rose to a consistent top five percent ranking among government agencies in the Best Places to Work in the Federal Government. He also worked to expand recruitment, employment, education and internship opportunities for minorities and underserved communities to ensure an inclusive and diverse workforce, leading Goddard to a number two ranking in diversity in the Best Places to Work survey for the past two years.
Prior to joining NASA, Strain was the head of the Space Department at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Lab in Laurel, Md. He has more than 25 years of experience in the aerospace business, including executive positions at Orbital Sciences, where he led the company’s Satellite and Electronic Sensors Divisions; and Fairchild Space and Defense Company for which he served as chief financial officer and various other operational roles.
Goddard Space Flight Center is a major U.S. laboratory for developing and operating unmanned scientific spacecraft. Goddard manages many of NASA’s Earth observation, astronomy and space physics missions. It was established in 1959 as NASA’s first space flight facility and it remains critical in carrying out NASA’s missions of space exploration and scientific discovery.