- Press Release
- Oct 6, 2022
NASA Administrator Names Whitson First NASA ISS Science Officer
Research aboard the International Space Station (ISS) is
getting a boost. NASA Administrator Sean O’Keefe today named
Dr. Peggy Whitson the first NASA ISS Science Officer.
In making the announcement, Administrator O’Keefe noted that
with the space station nearing its second year with a
permanent crew living on board, it’s time to increase emphasis
on the orbiting outpost’s main mission — research. Dr.
Whitson, who has a doctorate in biochemistry from Rice
University in Houston, became the station’s first resident
scientist when she arrived at the ISS June 7, 2002, as an
Expedition 5 Flight Engineer.
“Dr. Peggy Whitson is an obvious choice for NASA’s first ISS
Science Officer,” said Administrator O’Keefe. “In addition to
a doctorate in biochemistry, she is the recipient of numerous
awards and fellowships. Before her selection as an astronaut,
Dr. Whitson’s NASA career included time spent as a researcher.
She helped develop experiments to fly on the space shuttle,
served as the project scientist for the Shuttle-Mir program
and was the co-chair of the U.S.-Russian Mission Science
“Dr. Whitson has dedicated her career to the pursuit of
scientific knowledge, and she recognizes that some of the
problems we face today here on Earth have answers that will be
discovered in future activities on the International Space
Station,” added Administrator O’Keefe.
The NASA ISS Science Officer is a new duty assignment that
will be made for a NASA astronaut on each ISS Expedition Crew.
For now, the Science Officer will focus on U.S. research
conducted aboard ISS. NASA will explore with its 15
international partners the potential to expand the Science
Officer role as the station’s research capabilities are
The NASA ISS Science Officer will work with the U.S. research
community to understand and meet the requirements and
objectives of each ISS experiment. This will help achieve
maximum scientific research returns. The Science Officer will
continue to be the point-of-contact for the ISS crew with
NASA-sponsored principal investigators as well as payload
developers, integrators and trainers.
Dr. Whitson’s Science Officer duties will continue when she
returns to Earth for those experiments conducted during
Expedition 5. Her post-flight responsibilities include
participation in “debriefs” with NASA principal investigators
and active collaboration with their analysis of experimental
observations. Dr. Whitson will also communicate to the public
her experiences as a researcher in space.