Press Release

Spence Armstrong to Retire from NASA

By SpaceRef Editor
November 27, 2002
Filed under ,

Spence M. (Sam) Armstrong, Senior Advisor to NASA
Administrator Sean O’Keefe, will retire from NASA effective
Dec. 31, ending a career of public service that spans nearly
half a century.

As Senior Advisor to the Administrator, Armstrong promotes
partnerships with academia, the Department of Defense and
industry. He is the ombudsman for academic institutions in
such matters as export control, information technology
security, NASA’s grants process and prepublication review.
He initiated a series of six interactive Webcasts with
academic institutions to help them understand NASA and how to
partner with the agency. Each Webcast had between 300 and 400

During his 11 years at NASA, Armstrong has been honored with
the Presidential Rank of Meritorious Executive and NASA
awards of the Outstanding Leadership Medal and the
Exceptional Service Medal. Before joining NASA, he served for
34 years in the U.S. Air Force, retiring with the rank of
Lieutenant General.

“General Armstrong has served this nation with exceptional
distinction during both his military and NASA careers,” said
Administrator O’Keefe. “In NASA, he has shown a real ability
to lead diverse programs, from aerospace technology to
workforce and education. The agency will miss his

From 1998 to 2000, Armstrong served as the Associate
Administrator for Aerospace Technology. In this position he
established a system for measuring the technology progress
towards the enterprise’s recently established Ten Goals. To
recognize team and individual contribution to these goals he
established the first annual “Turning Goals into Reality

Armstrong came to NASA in 1991 from the White House-chartered
Synthesis Group, which had developed architectures to return
humans to the Moon and send them to Mars. He was appointed
Associate Administrator for the newly created Office of Human
Resources and Education. During his six-and-a-half years in
that job, he was responsible for developing NASA’s human
resources strategic plan and for emphasizing NASA’s
educational goals. He championed the development of an
Candidate Development Program for the Senior Executive
Service and a Program Managers Development Program, both of
which have been cited as exemplary programs in government and

A native of Columbia, Tenn., Armstrong graduated from the
U.S. Naval Academy in 1956 and was commissioned in the U.S.
Air Force. After training as a pilot and flying F-100
aircraft he was sent to the University of Michigan, where he
received masters degrees in Astronautical and Instrumentation
Engineering. Later he graduated from the Air War College and
completed short courses at Columbia and Harvard universities.

He completed the yearlong Aerospace Research Pilot School
(now called the Test Pilot School) and later served on its
faculty in several positions, including Deputy Commandant.
In between he served his tour in Southeast Asia with 100
missions over North Vietnam in the F-105. His flight log
shows 4,500 hours of flying time in more than 50 aircraft.

In the Air Force, his command positions included group, base,
wing and center levels. He served as the Chief of the U.S.
Training Mission to Saudi Arabia during the height of the
Iran-Iraq war. Before retiring in 1990, his last two
assignments were as Vice Commander in Chief of the Military
Airlift Command and the Vice Commander of Air Force Systems
Command at Andrews Air Force Base.

SpaceRef staff editor.