Press Release

NASA Assigns Ohio Native As New Chief Flight Director

By SpaceRef Editor
May 29, 2008
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NASA Assigns Ohio Native As New Chief Flight Director

NASA has selected Cleveland native John A. McCullough to lead the select group of men and women that direct space shuttle and International Space Station missions. His team also has begun to plan missions back to the moon for the Constellation Program.

“Never in the history of NASA have we been faced with three such diverse and yet closely interrelated efforts,” said McCullough. “Throughout my career at NASA I have strived to make a significant and positive difference in the space program. In my new role I look forward to the opportunity to have a greater influence in the ongoing shuttle and station missions and laying the groundwork for future exploration flights.”

McCullough is chief of the Flight Director Office, part of the Mission Operations Directorate at NASA’s Johnson Space Center. The mission operations team is dedicated to safely planning, training for, managing and executing overall mission operations for NASA human spaceflight.

McCullough has extensive experience within shuttle and station mission operations. He started work with NASA in 1989, managing shuttle astronaut training facilities before moving into Mission Control in 1992. Working as a payload officer and assembly checkout officer, he supported 14 space shuttle missions. He also served as the NASA mission manager for the IMAX project which produced the Space Station 3D film.

In 2000 he was selected as a flight director. He served as the lead flight director for the Expedition 7 mission to the International Space Station and the STS-115/12A shuttle mission that resumed station assembly operations following the Columbia accident. In his seven years as a flight director, he led the flight control team for more than 620 shifts, and supported operations for eight assembly flights and 14 Expedition crews.

McCullough went on to serve as the lead for all of the space station flight directors. He was integral in the restoration of the original Flight Control Room 1, built for Gemini and Apollo missions, to allow the station control team to move into the larger and now more capable facility.

He most recently served as the first chief of the Spaceflight Training Management Office, which was created as part of a reorganization to consolidate the training and mission operations teams. McCullough had a significant role in creating the new office, establishing standards and managing the integration of all training for the astronauts, flight controllers and instructors. The goal of the reorganization was to improve organizational flexibility, efficiency and retention of experienced personnel to support operations across three programs. The consolidation builds a stronger, cross-trained base of personnel for both training and operational activities.

One of his first privileges as chief of the Flight Director Office was to select four new flight directors. Only 77 people have served as NASA flight directors, or are in training to do so, in the nearly 50 years of human spaceflight. McCullough is in charge of 28 active flight directors. He follows in the footsteps of the legendary Chris Kraft and Gene Kranz, who defined the role of flight director during the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo missions.

Flight directors traditionally select a team name and call sign once they have completed certification. McCullough chose “Eagle” for his team designation, because he said it projects vision, strength of character, commitment and excellence. According to McCullough, these are the trademarks required from each member of the NASA team to be successful in making the Earth a better place and expanding humanity’s reach to the stars.

McCullough was born in Berea, Ohio, but considers Brunswick his hometown. He is a member of the inaugural class of the Brunswick High School Alumni Hall of Fame. He earned a Bachelor of Science degree in aerospace engineering from the University of Cincinnati in 1989. His awards include the NASA Exceptional Service Medal in 2006, NASA Outstanding Leadership Medal in 2004, JSC Certificate of Commendation in 2000 and numerous superior achievement and group achievement awards for shuttle and station mission support.

SpaceRef staff editor.