- Press Release
- August 8, 2022
NASA Selectes Admiral Cantrell for Independent Technical Authority
NASA Administrator Sean O’Keefe today selected Rear
Admiral (Ret.) Walter H. Cantrell to help establish and lead
the agency’s independent technical authority within its
engineering, operations and safety organizations.
Cantrell joins NASA as Deputy Chief Engineer for Independent
Technical Authority (ITA), effective June 7. He has served on
NASA’s Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel (ASAP) and as a member of the Stafford-Covey Task Group (SCTG) assessing the
agency’s return to flight implementation efforts.
“One of the most difficult Columbia Accident Investigation
Board organizational recommendations is that we develop an
independent technical authority to assure engineering
excellence,” said Administrator O’Keefe. “Walt’s role will be
to guide the development and implementation process for us.
He is no stranger to the NASA family and brings a tremendous
amount of experience to this agency. With his hands-on
engineering and technical background, he knows what an
exemplary independent technical authority needs to be.”
Cantrell retired from the U.S. Navy in 1995 after serving as
Commander, Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command. During his distinguished career, he served in senior engineering
positions and had program management responsibilities for
design and acquisition of nuclear submarines.
After retiring from the Navy, he joined Global Associates
Limited as Executive Director for Technology and Systems and
was President of the Signal Processing Systems Division. Most
recently, he was Program Director, Land Level Transfer
Facility, Bath Iron Works, responsible for the design and
construction of a $260 million state-of-the-art shipbuilding
“Walt has extensive experience within the public sector and
private industry in leading large and complex organizations
during a time of change,” added Administrator O’Keefe. “He’ll
be instrumental in implementing a comprehensive, independent,
internal organization oversight of our engineering systems
and operations. We’re delighted to have him as a part of our
team,” Administrator O’Keefe said.
He will report to NASA Chief Engineer Theron Bradley, Jr.
Cantrell will develop, issue and enforce policies and
requirements necessary to develop standardization for the
conduct of all NASA technical work. He will oversee and
direct senior personnel assigned to execute technical
decision making for NASA. Cantrell also will serve as the
senior liaison with the external oversight Stafford-Covey
Return to Flight Task Group.
The Columbia Accident Investigation Board (CAIB) recommended
developing a plan for an ITA before NASA returns to Space
Shuttle flight operations. NASA completed the agency’s plan
for the ITA. Cantrell will help implement the plan well
before returning to flight operations, exceeding the CAIB
recommendations and ensuring early review of engineering and
operational systems for safe return to flight.
Cantrell graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy, Annapolis,
Md., in 1958 with a bachelor’s degree in Naval Science. He
received a master’s degree in Naval Architecture, Marine and
Naval Engineering and a NavEng (Professional Degree) from the
Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, in 1965. He
is a graduate of the Senior Officials in National Security
Program, JFK School of Government at Harvard University.
For information about NASA, ASAP and SCTG on the Internet,