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NASA Johnson and Glenn Will Start 2013 With New Directors

NASA’s Johnson Space Center, in Houston,Texas, and Glenn Research Center, in Cleveland, Ohio, will begin the New Year with new directors.

Ellen Ochoa, a former astronaut, moves up from deputy director of NASA Johnson  to replace Mike Coats, after seven years at the helm. Johnson serves as home to NASA’s Mission Control as well as the astronaut corps.

Ellen Ochoa, Mike Coats. Photo Credit/NASA Photo


James Free, a propulsion expert, also moves up from deputy director at NASA Glenn to replace Ray Lugo. Lugo retires in January after a 37-year career at the space agency.

“Ellen and Jim are experienced, outstanding leaders who I know will continue to do great things as they take the helms of their field centers,” said NASA Administrator Charles Bolden, who announced the appointments on Friday, Nov. 16.  “I also want to thank Mike and Ray for their years of leadership and dedicated service at NASA, most recently while guiding Johnson and Glenn through pivotal times for those centers.

Ochoa becomes Johnson’s first Hispanic director. She is a four time shuttle astronaut, an electrical engineer and the holder of multiple patents in optical systems. She’s been Johnson’s deputy director since 2007.

Like Ochoa, Free joined NASA in 1990.  Most recently he filled several key positions involved in the development of the Orion/Multipurpose Crew Vehicle, the four person spacecraft that is a centerpiece of NASA’s future human deep space exploration plans. Free has worked at the agency’s Goddard and Johnson space centers as well as Glenn.

Jame Free, new NASA Glenn director. Photo Credit/NASA Photo


Coats joined NASA in 1978. A Naval aviator, he was among the agency’s first class of space shuttle astronauts. After three missions, Coats left NASA for the aerospace industry. He to NASA Johnson in 2005, departing Lockheed Martin.

Ray Lugo retires after 37 years at NASA. Photo Credit/NASA Photo


Lugo’s long NASA career began at the Kennedy Space Center, where he helped to prepare Launch Pad 39A for shuttle operations.




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