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John Grunsfeld Appointed Head of NASA Science

December 19, 2011

Credit: NASA, ESA, and J. Coyle (Coyle Studios for STScI)

NASA has named John Grunsfeld, former astronaut and current deputy director of the Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI) in Baltimore, to head its Science Mission Directorate at headquarters in Washington, D.C., effective Jan. 4, 2012. Grunsfeld will continue to work on and off at STScI until then, according to an STScI spokesperson. The institute will soon begin the search for his replacement; in the meantime, Kathryn Flanagan, who currently heads STScI’s James Webb Space Telescope mission office, will serve as acting deptuy director.

Grunseld, who has served as deputy director at STScI for nearly two years, has enjoyed a long and active career as an astronaut. He’s flown on five missions, including the last three to service Hubble, and performed eight space walks.

“John’s understanding of the critical connection between scientific research and the human exploration of space makes him an ideal choice for this job,” NASA Administrator Charles Bolden said in a press release. “I look forward to working with him to take the agency’s science  programs to even greater heights and make more of the ground-breaking discoveries about Earth and our universe for which NASA is known.