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NASA names two women to lead JSC and KSC during 'new era of space exploration'

Vanessa Wyche will take the reins at Johnson Space Center while Janet Petro will lead Kennedy Space Center as they prepare for the Artemis 1 launch to the moon.
Credit: NASA
Vanessa Wyche. left, will take over the reins as director of JSC and Janet Petro will lead KSC.

HOUSTON — NASA Administrator Bill Nelson has promoted two women as directors of Johnson Space Center in Houston and Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

Vanessa Wyche will take the reins at JSC and Janet Petro will lead KSC as they prepare for the Artemis 1 launch to the moon scheduled for later this year.

“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.”

Before being named acting director on May 3, Wyche had served as deputy director of JSC since August 2018. Before that, the 31-year NASA veteran held a number of roles, including flight manager for multiple space shuttle missions.    

“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.”

Wyche said she is humbled and honored to be chosen to lead more than 10,000 employees at JSC as they push ahead to the moon and beyond.

“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," Wyche said in a statement.

Prior to being named Kennedy’s acting director, Petro served as the center’s deputy director since 2007.

She will oversee the center’s world class multi-user spaceport, supporting both commercial customers and NASA’s science and human exploration missions.

"She was central to Kennedy’s transition to a multi-user spaceport, bringing a variety of new commercial and government partners to Kennedy," NASA said in a statement. "She led cross-agency initiatives with the Federal Aviation Administration and U.S. Air Force to streamline government processes and support commercial space operations, increase government efficiency, and limit redundancy."

Petro grew up on Florida's Space Coast and said she's the second generation in her family to work at KSC.

"It’s truly exciting to help grow the multi-user spaceport as we prepare for Artemis and continue launching commercial crew missions to the International Space Station," she said. 

Petro began her professional career as a commissioned officer in the U.S. Army and graduated from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point in 1981.

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