Three New Flight Directors Chosen To Lead NASA's Mission Control
NASA's flight directors lead a team of flight controllers, support personnel and engineering experts from around the world. They also are involved in cargo and crew vehicle integration with the station and developing plans for future exploration missions.
"As we move into a new era of spaceflight, these flight directors will help us transition the knowledge and experience from the existing human spaceflight programs into the next period of exploration and space station operations," said John McCullough, chief of the Flight Director Office at Johnson. "This includes development of new technologies and techniques for spaceflight and development and execution of our future missions in the years to come."
After the new flight directors have completed their training and certification, NASA will have 25 active flight directors supporting the space station, exploration, commercial spaceflights and new technology demonstration initiatives. Prior to the selection of Frieling, Gonzalez-Torres and Whitney, only 80 people had served as NASA flight directors in the almost 50 years of human spaceflight.
Judd Frieling was born in Austin, Texas, but considers Pflugerville, Texas, his hometown. He earned a Bachelor of Science degree in aerospace engineering from the University of Texas in 1996. He began a diverse flight control career in 1997 as an Onboard Data Interfaces and Network (ODIN) officer, serving as lead for the STS-97 station assembly mission, and worked to resolve multiple computer failures during the STS-100 mission. He was instrumental in developing new operations processes and procedures, allowing the Mission Control Center to operate with significantly smaller staffs during quiet periods aboard the station. In 2004, Frieling transitioned to space shuttle flight control as a Data Processing Systems (DPS) officer, where he supported 20 shuttle flights. He served as lead DPS officer for STS-118 and STS-130.
Tomas Gonzalez-Torres was born in Rio Piedras, Puerto Rico. He earned a Bachelor of Science in aerospace engineering from Iowa State University in 1998. A veteran spacewalk flight controller, Gonzalez-Torres has been the group lead for the Extravehicular Activities (EVA) Systems Group for the past three years, and recently has been acting chief of the EVA Operations Branch. He joined NASA in 1994 and worked as a spacewalk task and systems instructor. Gonzalez-Torres became an EVA officer in 2005, working 17 shuttle flights, including lead for the STS-121 assembly mission that featured tests of shuttle heat shield inspection and repair techniques. He served as the lead spacewalk officer for the final Hubble Space Telescope servicing mission, STS-125, and four space station expedition spacewalks.
Greg Whitney was born in Albany, N.Y., but considers Rye, N.H., his hometown. He earned a Bachelor of Science in aerospace engineering from the University of Texas in 2002. He joined NASA in 2002 and supported space station activities as an Operations Planner. Whitney also supported space shuttle missions as a Flight Activities Officer (FAO), developing plans to optimize crew operations. This resume includes 14 space station expeditions and 12 space shuttle missions, and he served as the lead FAO for the last shuttle flight, STS-135, earlier this year. He also spent time as an acting group lead for spaceflight planning activities.
Photos of the new flight directors are available online at: