Press Release

Three Astronauts Depart NASA Management

By SpaceRef Editor
August 3, 2011
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HOUSTON – Astronauts Steven Nagel, John Phillips and Carlos Noriega are leaving the agency. Following many years of leadership in NASA’s aircraft operations, Nagel is taking a position in academia. Phillips is retiring after returning from assignment to the Naval Postgraduate School. Noriega has most recently served in management roles for future human spaceflight exploration and is moving to industry.

“These three gentlemen epitomize service and excellence,” said Janet Kavandi, director, Flight Crew Operations. “steve has served the agency for more than 30 years. He’s an incredible professional and leader, sharing his expertise and experience with everyone who has had the pleasure to work with him.”

“Likewise, John brought a wealth of experience and represented the office admirably during his long duration flight on the International Space Station,” added Kavandi. “With two missions to space stations and his dedication to future exploration and safety, Carlos has contributed greatly to the expansion of human spaceflight. They will all be greatly missed and we wish them the best.”

Nagel, a retired U.S. Air Force colonel, began his career as a NASA astronaut in 1979. He flew four space shuttle flights including as a mission specialist on STS-51G in 1985 and as pilot on STS-61A in 1985. He commanded STS-37 in 1991 and STS-55 in 1993.

Nagel left the astronaut office in 1995 to serve as deputy director for the Operations Development, Safety, Reliability and Quality Assurance Office and later transferred to the Aircraft Operations Division where he performed duties as a research pilot, senior pilot, and deputy division chief.

Phillips, a retired officer from the U.S. Navy, joined NASA as an astronaut in 1996. He is a veteran of three spaceflights including a long duration mission on the International Space Station. He flew as a flight engineer and science officer on Expedition 11 in 2005, logging more than 179 days in space, and conducting a spacewalk. His shuttle missions included STS-100 in 2001 and STS-119 in 2009. Phillips is retiring from a two-year NASA rotational position at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, Calif.

Noriega, a retired U.S. Marines lieutenant colonel, joined NASA as an astronaut in 1994. During two spaceflight missions he logged over 481 hours in space, including over 19 hours on three spacewalks. He flew on STS-84 in 1997 and STS-97 in 2000. Noriega then served as chief of the Exploration Systems Engineering Division in Johnson Space Center’s Engineering Directorate and later as the director of the Constellation Program’s Safety, Reliability and Quality Assurance Office.

For Nagel’s biography, visit:

For Phillips, biography, visit:

For Noriega’s biography, visit:

SpaceRef staff editor.