Chief of the Astronaut Office
The Chief of the Astronaut Office is the most senior leadership position for active astronauts at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). The Chief Astronaut serves as head of the NASA Astronaut Corps and is the principal advisor to the NASA Administrator on astronaut training and operations.
The position was created in November 1963 when Alan Shepard was named as the first Chief Astronaut. His responsibilities included monitoring the coordination, scheduling, and control of all activities involving NASA astronauts. This included monitoring the development and implementation of effective training programs to assure the flight readiness of available pilot/non-pilot personnel for assignment to crew positions on manned space flights; furnishing pilot evaluations applicable to the design, construction, and operations of spacecraft systems and related equipment; and providing qualitative scientific and engineering observations to facilitate overall mission planning, formulation of feasible operational procedures, and selection and conduct of specific experiments for each flight.
List of Chief Astronauts
- Deke Slayton (September 1, 1962 – November 1963)
- Alan Shepard (November 1963 – July 1969)
- Tom Stafford (July 1969 – June 1971) Stafford held the position while Shepard prepared for and flew Apollo 14.
- Alan Shepard (June 1971 – August 1, 1974)
- John Young (January 14, 1974 – April 15, 1987), Deputy was Paul J. Weitz. Acting Chief during STS-1 training was Alan Bean.
- Dan Brandenstein (April 27, 1987 – October 1992), Deputy was Steven Hawley. Hawley was Acting Chief while Brandenstein prepared for and flew STS-49, the first flight of Shuttle Endeavour.
- Robert Gibson (December 8, 1992 – September 6, 1994), Deputy was Linda Godwin. Gibson handed the position over to Cabana to begin training for STS-71, the first Shuttle docking to Mir.
- Robert Cabana (September 6, 1994 – October 1997), Deputy was Linda Godwin. Cabana handed the position over to Cockrell to begin training for STS-88, the first International Space Station assembly mission.
- Kenneth Cockrell (October 1997 – October 1998). Cockrell later flew two Shuttle missions.
- Charles Precourt (October 1998 – November 2002), Deputy was Kent Rominger.
- Kent Rominger (November 2002 – September 2006), Deputies were Andy Thomas and Peggy Whitson.
- Steven W. Lindsey (September 2006 – October 2009), Deputies were Janet Kavandi and Sunita Williams (February 2008 to October 2009). Lindsey handed the position over to Whitson when he was assigned to command STS-133, which at the time was planned to be the final Space Shuttle mission.
- Peggy Whitson (October 2009 – July 2012) Whitson was the first female, and first non-pilot to serve as Chief Astronaut. Deputies were Rick Sturckow (October 2009 to August 2011), and Robert Behnken and Eric Boe. Whitson handed the position over to Behnken and went back on active flight status.
- Robert Behnken (July 2012 – present) Deputy is Eric Boe.
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