For release: 04/15/02
Release #: 02-091
NASA Marshall Center’s Art Stephenson, Ann Whitaker elected AIAA Fellows
The director of NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., and the director of its Science Directorate have been elected Fellows by the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, the nation’s largest society devoted to the advancement of aviation, space and defense.
Photo: Stephenson (NASA/JSC)
Art Stephenson, Marshall Center director, and Dr. Ann Whitaker, who heads the Science Directorate, will be honored at the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) Global Air and Space ’02 International Business Forum and Exhibition, April 23-25, in Arlington, Va.
To be distinguished as a Fellow by AIAA, a candidate must be an Associate Fellow in the institute and have made valuable contributions to the arts, science and technology of their field.
Stephenson leads the Marshall Center -- NASA's premier organization for development of space transportation and propulsion systems, and NASA's leader in microgravity research and advanced large optics manufacturing technology. He administers a broad range of research and development activities, along with more than 6,500 civil service and contract employees and an annual budget currently at $2.3 billion.
Since joining Marshall in 1998, Stephenson has overseen the Center's work on critical NASA initiatives such as development of new reusable launch vehicles, Space Shuttle propulsion, advanced space transportation systems, research in microgravity, and science payload operations aboard the International Space Station, and the launch and continuing successful operation of the Chandra X-ray Observatory -- the world's most powerful X-ray telescope.
Stephenson began his career in 1964 with TRW in Redondo Beach, Calif. In his first assignment, he designed a computer test set to verify performance of the Apollo Lunar Excursion Abort Guidance System. He later led development of the Pioneer Jupiter Spacecraft receiver, the first spacecraft to leave our solar system, and development of the Space Shuttle S-band communication network transponder, still in use today.
From 1988 to 1992, Stephenson was director of space transportation and advanced programs, heading TRW's study teams for NASA's Assured Crew Return Vehicle De-Orbit Module as well as projects for U.S. military and international space programs.
In 1992, he joined Oceaneering International Inc., and served as vice president and general manager of Oceaneering Space Systems in Houston. Under his leadership, the organization grew from 30 to 220 employees in five years, serving Marshall, Johnson Space Center in Houston, the Departments of Defense and Energy, and many prime contractors.
Stephenson was promoted to president of Oceaneering Advanced Technologies in 1997. This position combined Oceaneering Space Systems with responsibilities for Oceaneering's U.S. Navy, Department of Energy and entertainment businesses, including submarine rescue system design, robotics for hazardous waste cleanup at nuclear waste sites in the United States, and attractions for theme parks in Florida, California and Japan.
Stephenson is a member of the National Space Society and American Astronautical Society. He was awarded NASA’s Outstanding Leadership Medal in 2000 and NASA's Exceptional Achievement Medal in 2001, both at NASA Headquarters in Washington, D.C.
A graduate in electrical engineering from the University of Redlands, Calif., he also completed the executive program in management at the John E. Anderson Graduate School of Management at the University of California at Los Angeles.
Stephenson is a native of New London, Conn. He and his wife, Loa, have two adult children, Kristin and John, and three grandsons.
Ann Whitaker, a pioneer in developing methods for predicting the performance of materials in the space environment, began her NASA career in 1963, joining the Marshall Center as a physicist in the former Propulsion and Vehicle Engineering Laboratory.
Her early career included contributions to the Saturn program that launched Americans to the Moon, and the Long Duration Exposure Facility — a series of flight experiments to characterize environmental effects on materials in space. Information gleaned from Whitaker’s early research continues to support material selection for present-day space systems, including the International Space Station.
Whitaker became chief of Marshall’s Physical Sciences Branch in 1977, chief of the Engineering Physics Division in 1984, and chief of the Project and Environmental Engineering Division in 1993.
In 1995, she was selected for the Senior Executive Service, and held key leadership positions within Marshall’s Science and Engineering Directorate. These included deputy director of the Space Sciences Laboratory and director of the Materials, Processes and Manufacturing Department. As the director of the Science Directorate, she is responsible for materials and biotechnology microgravity science, Earth and Space Science, and Advanced Optics Manufacturing Technology.
She has a bachelor’s degree in physics from Berry College in Rome, Ga., a master’s degree in physics from the University of Alabama in Huntsville and a doctorate in materials engineering from Auburn University in Auburn, Ala.
Whitaker has received numerous awards during her career, including NASA’s Exceptional Service Medal, Exceptional Engineering Achievement Medal, Women in Science and Engineering Lifetime Achievement Award, and Rank of Meritorious Executive. She is the author or co-author of 70 publications.
She is a native of Plainsville, Ga. She and her husband, John, are the parents of one daughter, Leann.