NASA Administrator Bill Nelson named Vanessa Wyche director of the agency’s Johnson Space Center in Houston and Janet Petro director of Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Wyche served as the acting director of Johnson since May 3 and Petro has served as the acting director of Kennedy since May 17.
Vanessa Wyche is a nearly 30-year veteran of NASA and was tapped Wednesday as the second in command at Houston‘s Johnson Space Center. Wyche, 54, is the first African-American to hold the deputy director position at Johnson which had a budget of $4.5 billion in fiscal year 2017 and employs about 10,000 civil service and contractor employees.
“Both Vanessa and Janet are exceptional leaders who will help propel NASA forward as we venture farther out into the cosmos than ever before,” said Nelson. “It’s an incredible time at NASA, and with Vanessa and Janet leading the Johnson and Kennedy Space Centers, NASA will embark on a new era of space exploration – starting with the Artemis I launch to the Moon later this year.”
“I’m humbled and honored to be chosen to lead the more than 10,000 employees at Johnson Space Center, who work each day to enhance scientific and technological knowledge via space exploration to benefit all of humankind,” Wyche said.
“As the home to America’s astronaut corps, International Space Station mission operations, the Orion and Gateway programs, and a host of future space developments, Johnson is a world leader in human space exploration and is playing a key role in the next giant leaps in American excellence in space. I look forward to working with everyone as we push forward to the Moon and inspire a new generation of explorers to reach for the stars.”
Prior to serving as acting director, Vanessa served as deputy director of Johnson since August 2018. Wyche is a 31-year veteran of NASA . Wyche also served as assistant center director at Johnson and director of the center’s Exploration Integration and Science Directorate, and worked in the executive office of the NASA administrator, served as a flight manager for multiple space shuttle missions, and has led other center-level technical and program organizations.
The South Carolina native is almnus of Clemson University in Greenville South Carolina . There she earned a Bachelor of Science in engineering and Master of Science in bioengineering. Wyche is the first African American woman to lead a NASA center.
“Vanessa is a tenacious leader who has broken down barriers throughout her career,” said NASA Deputy Administrator Pam Melroy. “Vanessa’s more than three decades at NASA and program experience in almost all of the human spaceflight programs at Johnson is an incredible asset to the agency. In the years to come, I’m confident that Houston will continue to lead the way in human spaceflight.”
As Johnson’s director, Wyche will lead a center that is central to NASA’s human spaceflight missions and home to the nation’s astronaut corps, International Space Station mission operations, the Orion Program, and more.