Robert D. Cabana

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Robert D. Cabana
Cabana at a NASA news conference in 2023
Associate Administrator of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration
Assumed office
May 17, 2021
PresidentJoe Biden
AdministratorBill Nelson
Preceded bySteve Jurczyk
10th Director of the Kennedy Space Center
In office
October 26, 2008 – May 17, 2021
Preceded byWilliam W. Parsons
Succeeded byJanet Petro
Personal details
Born (1949-01-23) January 23, 1949 (age 74)
Minneapolis, Minnesota, U.S.
Alma materUSNA, B.S. 1971
OccupationNaval aviator, test pilot
Military service
RankColonel, USMC
Space career
NASA Astronaut
Time in space
37d 22h 42min
Selection1985 NASA Group 11
MissionsSTS-41, STS-53, STS-65, STS-88
Mission insignia

Robert Donald Cabana (born January 23, 1949) is the Associate Administrator of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), a NASA astronaut (currently as a non-flight eligible management astronaut), and a veteran of four Space Shuttle flights.[1][2] He served as Chief of the Astronaut Office from 1994 to 1997 and as director of the John F. Kennedy Space Center from 2008 to 2021. He is also a former naval flight officer and naval aviator in the United States Marine Corps.


He was born January 23, 1949, in Minneapolis, Minnesota, to Ted and Annabell Cabana. Ted has since moved to Salt Lake City. Robert is the older of two sons. His younger brother is Gary Cabana, and he is married to the former Nancy Joan Shimer of Cortland, New York. He has three children: Jeffrey, Christopher, and Sarah.[3]


He graduated from Washburn High School, Minneapolis, Minnesota, in 1967. He received his Bachelor of Science degree in mathematics from the United States Naval Academy, Annapolis, Maryland, in 1971.

Military career[edit]

After graduation from the United States Naval Academy, Cabana attended The Basic School at Marine Corps Base Quantico, Virginia, and completed Naval Flight Officer training at Naval Air Station Pensacola, Florida, in 1972. He served as an A-6 Intruder bombardier/navigator with squadrons in the 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing (2nd MAW) at Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, North Carolina, and the 1st Marine Aircraft Wing at Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan. He returned to NAS Pensacola in 1975 for pilot training and was redesignated as a naval aviator in September 1976. He was then assigned to the 2nd MAW at MCAS Cherry Point, where he flew A-6 Intruders. He graduated from the United States Naval Test Pilot School in 1981, and served at the Naval Air Test Center at NAS Patuxent River, Maryland, as the A-6 program manager, X-29 advanced technology demonstrator project officer, and as a test pilot for flight systems and ordnance separation testing on A-6 Intruder and A-4 Skyhawk series aircraft. Prior to his selection as an astronaut candidate, he was serving as the assistant operations officer of Marine Aircraft Group 12 at MCAS Iwakuni, Japan.

Cabana retired from the Marine Corps in August 2000 in the rank of colonel.

He has logged over 7,000 hours in 34 different kinds of aircraft.[3]

NASA career[edit]

Robert Cabana in Firing Room Four observing the last mission of the Space Shuttle.

Selected by NASA as an astronaut candidate in June 1985, Cabana completed initial astronaut training in July 1986, qualifying for assignment as a pilot on future Space Shuttle flight crews. His initial assignment was as the Astronaut Office Space Shuttle flight software coordinator until November 1986. At that time he was assigned as the deputy chief of aircraft operations for the Johnson Space Center where he served for 2+12 years. He then served as the lead astronaut in the Shuttle Avionics Integration Laboratory (SAIL) where the Orbiter's flight software is tested prior to flight. Cabana has served as a spacecraft communicator (CAPCOM) in Mission Control during Space Shuttle missions, and as chief of astronaut appearances. Prior to his assignment to command STS-88, Cabana served three years as NASA's Chief of the Astronaut Office.

Following STS-88, Cabana served as the deputy director of flight crew operations. After joining the ISS Program in October 1999, Cabana served as manager for international operations. From August 2001 to September 2002, he served as director of Human Space Flight Programs, Russia. As NASA's lead representative to the Russian Aviation and Space Agency (Rosaviakosmos) and its contractors, he provided oversight of all human space flight operations, logistics, and technical functions, including NASA's mission operations in Korolev and crew training at the Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center in Star City, Russia.

Upon his return to Houston, Cabana was assigned briefly as the deputy manager of International Space Station (ISS) Program. From November 2002 to March 2004, he served as director of Flight Crew Operations Directorate, responsible for directing the day-to-day activities of the directorate, including the NASA Astronaut Corps and aircraft operations at Ellington Field. He was then assigned as deputy director of the Johnson Space Center, where he served for three and a half years. From October 2007 through October 2008, Cabana served as director of John C. Stennis Space Center.

In October 2008 he was reassigned as director of the John F. Kennedy Space Center,[4] and served as director for over a decade.

In May 2021, Cabana was appointed as the Associate Administrator of NASA.[2] As a former "active" (eligible for space missions) astronaut still working for NASA, Cabana remains a member of the NASA Astronaut Corps, as one of sixteen (as of May 2021) management astronauts.[5]

Spaceflight experience[edit]

STS-41 Discovery launched on October 6, 1990, from the Kennedy Space Center, Florida, and landed at Edwards Air Force Base, California, on October 10, 1990. During 66 orbits of the Earth, the five-man crew successfully deployed the Ulysses spacecraft, starting the interplanetary probe on its four-year journey, via Jupiter, to investigate the polar regions of the Sun; operated the Shuttle Solar Backscatter Ultraviolet instrument (SSBUV) to map atmospheric ozone levels; activated a controlled "fire in space" experiment (the Solid Surface Combustion Experiment, or SSCE); and conducted numerous other middeck experiments involving radiation measurements, polymer membrane production, and microgravity effects on plants.[6]

STS-53 Discovery launched from the Kennedy Space Center, Florida, on December 2, 1992. The crew of five deployed the classified Department of Defense payload DOD-1 and then performed several Military-Man-in-Space and NASA experiments. After completing 115 orbits of the Earth in 175 hours, Discovery landed at Edwards Air Force Base, California, on December 9, 1992.[7]

STS-65 Columbia launched from the Kennedy Space Center, Florida, on July 8, 1994, returning to Florida on July 23, 1994. The crew conducted the second International Microgravity Laboratory (IML-2) mission utilizing the long Spacelab module in the payload bay. The flight consisted of 82 experiments from 15 countries and six space agencies from around the world. During the record-setting 15-day flight, the crew conducted experiments that focused on materials and life sciences research in a microgravity environment paving the way for future operations and cooperation aboard International Space Station. The mission was accomplished in 236 orbits of the Earth in 353 hours and 55 minutes.[8]

STS-88 Endeavour (December 4–15, 1998) was the first International Space Station assembly mission. During the 12-day mission, Unity, the U.S. built node, was attached to Zarya, the Russian built Functional Cargo Block (FGB). Two crewmembers performed three spacewalks to connect umbilicals and attach tools/hardware in the assembly and outfitting of the station. Additionally, the crew performed the initial activation and first ingress of the International Space Station preparing it for future assembly missions and full-time occupation. The crew also performed IMAX Cargo Bay Camera (ICBC) operations, and deployed two satellites, Mighty Sat 1 built by the U.S. Air Force's Phillips Laboratory, and SAC-A, the first successful launch of an Argentine satellite. The mission was accomplished in 185 orbits of the Earth in 283 hours and 18 minutes.[9]

Cabana has logged over 1,010 hours in space.


Awards and honors[edit]


  1. ^ Emilee Speck (10 May 2021). "Longtime Kennedy Space Center Director Robert Cabana moving to NASA HQ with new role". ClickOrlando. Retrieved June 24, 2021.
  2. ^ a b "NASA Announces New Associate Administrator". NASA. May 2021. Retrieved June 24, 2021.
  3. ^ a b "ROBERT D. CABANA (COLONEL, U.S. MARINE CORPS, RET.), DIRECTOR, KENNEDY SPACE CENTER" (PDF). NASA. July 2014. Retrieved June 24, 2021.
  4. ^ "Cabana to Succeed Parsons as Kennedy Space Center Director" (Press release). NASA. 2008-09-30. Retrieved 2008-09-30.
  5. ^ "NASA Management Astronauts". NASA. 2021-01-24. Retrieved 2021-01-24.
  6. ^ Ryba, Jeanne (18 February 2010). "STS-41". Mission Archives. NASA. Archived from the original on 6 May 2021. Retrieved 6 May 2021.
  7. ^ Ryba, Jeanne (31 March 2010). "STS-53". Mission Archives. NASA. Archived from the original on 6 May 2021. Retrieved 6 May 2021.
  8. ^ Ryba, Jeanne (1 April 2010). "STS-65". Mission Archives. NASA. Archived from the original on 6 May 2021. Retrieved 6 May 2021.
  9. ^ Ryba, Jeanne (10 February 2011). "STS-88". Mission Archives. NASA. Archived from the original on 6 May 2021. Retrieved 6 May 2021.
  10. ^ U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame Inductee Biographies Archived 2008-05-09 at the Wayback Machine, retrieved 2008-03-25
  11. ^ 2007 U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame Induction Archived 2008-03-15 at the Wayback Machine, retrieved 2008-03-25

External links[edit]

Preceded by Chief of the Astronaut Office
Succeeded by