Press Release

USRA Selects Erick Young for SOFIA Science Mission Operations Director

By SpaceRef Editor
April 8, 2009
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USRA Selects Erick Young for SOFIA Science Mission Operations Director

The Universities Space Research Association (USRA) is proud to announce the appointment of Dr. Erick Young as the Science Mission Operations Director for the Stratospheric Observatory For Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA – a highly modified Boeing 747SP aircraft fitted with a 2.5-meter/98-inch diameter infrared telescope). Dr. Young’s selection marks a major milestone in the program’s progress.

As SOFIA Science Mission Operations Director, Dr. Young will provide technical and management guidance of the combined USRA and Deutsches SOFIA Institute (DSI) staff and research equipment to maximize the productivity of the observatory. Dr. Young will also provide strategic interface to the NASA Dryden Program Manager, the NASA Ames Science Project manager, and others, on a routine basis to ensure the continued success of SOFIA’s science mission objectives.

Dr. Young is a widely recognized authority on infrared instrumentation for astronomy and has participated in virtually all space infrared astronomy missions to date. Dr. Young was responsible for the development of the Spitzer Space Telescope Multiband Imaging Photometer (MIPS) detector array. Dr. Young is currently a member of the Science Oversight Committee for the Wide Field Camera 3 (WFC3) that is slated for installation on the Hubble Space Telescope this summer. Dr. Young is the recipient of the George Van Biesbroeck Prize, awarded annually by the American Astronomical Society to honor a living individual for long-term achievement in the field of astronomy.

USRA CEO and President, Dr Frederick A. Tarantino cited Dr. Young’s selection as an example of the high-quality technical leadership and expertise that USRA, with it significant reach into the space science research and academic communities, can bring to significant efforts such as SOFIA. “We are extremely pleased to have someone of Dr. Young’s caliber and experience providing critical leadership for this very important effort.” said Dr. Tarantino. “We are very proud to assist NASA in developing a unique scientific instrument capable of providing a wealth of knowledge about the universe to astronomers and educators.”


SOFIA, a joint NASA and Deutsches Zentrum fur Luft- und Raumfahrt (DLR; German Aerospace Center) program, is currently managed at NASA’s Dryden Flight Research Center. USRA and the DSI manage SOFIA’s science and mission operations center for NASA at the Ames Research Center in Mountain View, California.

About USRA

Established in 1969 by the National Academy of Sciences, USRA is a private, nonprofit consortium of 104 universities offering advanced degrees in space- and aeronautics-related disciplines. USRA’s mission is to conduct leading-edge research, develop innovative technologies, promote space-related education and policy, and operate premier science/technology facilities by involving universities, private industry and government.

SpaceRef staff editor.