- Press Release
- Jan 31, 2023
Johnson Space Center Names 10 New Flight Directors
The Mission Operations Directorate at Johnson Space Center has named 10
new flight directors. It is the largest such class ever selected, and
brings to 28 the number of current U.S. flight directors.
“Such a large class was needed to support around-the-clock operation of
the International Space Station,” said Jeffrey W. Bantle, chief of the
Flight Director Office. “The first flight director, Chris Kraft, was
selected during the Mercury era. Since that time, only 48 men and women
have served as flight directors throughout the history of U.S. human
The selection process began in June. “There were many outstanding people
to choose from, which made the selection process most difficult,” Bantle
said. “But it did remind me of the great talent, among both civil
servants and contractors, in the Missions Operations Directorate, the
Johnson Space Center and NASA.”
A flight director manages the flight controllers who work in the Mission
Control Center, and has overall responsibility for the successful
management and execution of space flights. A flight director also leads
and orchestrates planning and integration activities with flight
controllers, payload customers, International Space Station partners and
All of the 10 new flight directors have previously served as flight
controllers. One works for a Canadian Space Agency contractor and
another, the first flight director from the ranks of space station
flight controllers, is employed by a NASA contractor.
The new flight directors:
–Matthew Abbott is from Williamsville, N.Y.,
near Buffalo. He graduated from Texas A&M University in 1985 with a BS
in aerospace engineering. Abbott began work in the Mission Operations
Directorate as a co-op in 1983. He was a flight controller before
leaving in 1997 to work for Booz-Allen & Hamilton. He most recently
worked for Calian Technology Ltd. at the Canadian Space Agency in
–Anthony J. Ceccacci, a native of Eastpointe, Mich., near Detroit,
graduated from Saginaw Valley State College (now Saginaw Valley State
University) with a BS in mechanical engineering in 1979. He has been at
Johnson Space Center for 20 years as a flight controller. He most
recently was chief of the Guidance and Propulsion Branch of Mission
–Annette P. Hasbrook calls Clear Lake City, Texas, home. She graduated
from the University of Notre Dame with a BS in mechanical engineering in
1985. She has been at Johnson Space Center since 1987, working with the
Payloads team. Most recently she served as a group lead for Payloads,
working as a flight controller in the Space Shuttle Flight Control Room.
–Derek Hassmann of San Antonio, Texas, graduated from the University of
Texas at Austin in 1988 with a BS in mechanical engineering. He has
worked in Mission Operations since 1990 as a contractor employee. He is
an employee of United Space Alliance, and the first flight director to
be selected from the ranks of space station flight controllers.
–Norman D. Knight’s hometown is Pearland, Texas, though his parents now
live in the Detroit area. He is a 1990 graduate of Embry-Riddle
Aeronautical University in Prescott, Ariz., with a BS in aeronautical
engineering. He came to Johnson Space Center as a co-op in 1988, working
in the Systems Development Division. He has worked in Mission Operations
since then, and most recently served as lead in the Booster Systems
–Catherine A. Koerner calls Schaumburg, Ill., her hometown ñ her father
is the mayor. She holds two degrees from the University of Illinois
(Urbana-Champaign), a BS awarded in 1987 and a 1989 MS, both in
aeronautical and astronautical engineering. She joined the Propulsion
Operations Group as a flight controller in 1991.
–Bryan Lunney is from Friendswood, Texas, and a 1988 graduate of Texas
A&M with a BS in aerospace engineering. He came to Johnson Space Center
after graduation and worked in propulsion before moving to the Motion
Control Systems Group (a space station position) as a group lead.
–John A. McCullough is originally from Brunswick, Ohio, near Cleveland.
He holds a 1989 aerospace engineering degree from the University of
Cincinnati. He has been at NASA since shortly after he graduated.
–Joel R. Montalbano has been at the Johnson Space Center for the past
12 years. Montalbano has spent considerable time in Russia as a key
leader in forging a relationship with the Russians for International
Space Station Operations. He is a 1988 graduate of Iowa State University
with a BS in aerospace engineering.
–Steven Stich is from Corpus Christi, Texas, and a 1987 graduate of
Texas A&M with a BS in aerospace engineering. He came to Johnson Space
Center 13 years ago to work in Flight Design and Dynamics. Stich has
served as the Group Lead for the Ascent and Entry Flight Dynamics
Officers (FDO) for the past few years, and led the Orbit Flight Dynamics
Officers teams before that.
The flight director class of 1983 with eight members had been the
largest before selection of the class of 2000.