Press Release

NASA Goddard Space Flight Center Deputy Director William Townsend to Retire

By SpaceRef Editor
August 9, 2004
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Goddard Space Flight Center’s Deputy Director, William F. Townsend, has announced his plans to conclude his NASA career after 41 years with the space agency. Townsend will retire from NASA on September 4, 2004 and has accepted a position with Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corporation in Boulder, CO as the Vice President and General Manager for Civil Space.

“My journey with NASA has been absolutely fantastic and I have been involved with so many exciting and challenging things that the vast majority of people can only dream about” Townsend said. “From the beginning of my career at NASA’s Wallops Flight Center as an electronic technician apprentice to the last 6 1/2 years as deputy center director, it has been a marvelous ride. My proudest accomplishment is having been intimately associated with 59 missions launched throughout my career, and having experienced only one accountable mission failure. While Mission Success has always been foremost in my mind, we couldn’t have accumulated this outstanding track record without the dedicated efforts of all the people that I have had the good fortune to have been associated with over these 41 years. It is the people that have made my career rich and wonderful.

Townsend has served as the number two person at Goddard since 1998. In his role as deputy center director, he has shared with the Director the responsibility for the executive leadership and overall direction and management of the Center and its assigned programs and activities in the areas of science and technology. Additionally, he has served as the principal operating official with general management responsibility for Center programmatic activities and management of resources

Prior to his assignment at Goddard, Townsend served as the Deputy Associate Administrator (Programs) for the Office of Earth Science, beginning in 1993, where he was responsible for the general management and direction of all Earth Science flight programs. During a 20-month period, beginning in June 1996, Mr. Townsend served as the acting Associate Administrator for the Enterprise.

Prior key positions within NASA included Deputy Director of the Earth Science and Applications Division and Chief of the Flight Programs Branch. His first assignment at NASA Headquarters was to lead the development of TOPEX/POSEIDON, a cooperative program with France, whose purpose was to fully exploit the potential of altimetry for oceanography. During his tenure at Wallops, which began in 1963, Mr. Townsend was Experiment Manager for the Seasat Radar Altimeter Experiment, which flew in 1978 and provided the first high precision altimeter data taken over the oceans from space.

Mr. Townsend was born in Nassawadox, VA in 1946. He received an electrical engineering degree with honors from Virginia Polytechnic Institute in Blacksburg, VA in 1970. He has received numerous awards including Goddard s Robert C. Baumann Memorial Award for Mission Success in 2003. He also received the NASA Distinguished Service Medal in 1995 for his leadership and technical guidance of the Earth Science Program. In 1994 and 2003, he received the Presidential Rank Award of Meritorious Executive. He also received the NASA Medal for Outstanding Leadership in 1993, and in 1994, the French Space Agency’s Bronze Medal, both for his work on the highly successful TOPEX/POSEIDON Program. In 1976, he received the NASA Exceptional Service Medal for his pioneering work in radar altimetry.

He and his wife, Carolyn, currently reside in Annapolis, MD. They have two children, Jason, a student at the University of Colorado in Boulder, and Tiffany, a student at Annapolis High School.

SpaceRef staff editor.