NASA has named Robyn Gatens as director of the International Space Station for the agency following about seven months of her serving as acting director of the program. Kathy Lueders, NASA’s associate administrator for Human Exploration and Operations, made the official appointment, effective March 28.
Lueders said, Robyn’s leadership, experience and strategic vision for the International Space Station have been clearly demonstrated as she’s worked closely with the station team as deputy and acting director. I’m confident she will continue our efforts of maximizing the space station for science, research and technology development, including enabling a robust low-Earth orbit economy.
In this role, Gatens will continue to lead strategy, policy, integration, and stakeholder engagement for the space station program at the agency level, working closely with International Space Station Program Manager Joel Montalbano at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston. Gatens will provide technical advice for the program, as well as oversee program execution and risk management.
Prior to her appointment as acting director, Gatens served as deputy director for the International Space Station, sharing responsibility with the director for day-to-day management. She engaged in NASA’s strategic planning to leverage the space station to enable a robust low-Earth orbit economy. She also played a leadership role in NASA’s response to an independent, external review of the operations and management of the International Space Station U.S. National Laboratory, which the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space manages, and provided leadership for the new strategic direction for the U.S. National Laboratory. Additionally, she has been serving as the systems capability leader for environmental control and life support and crew health and performance systems, a role which she will be transitioning away from now that she has assumed the permanent ISS director position.
Gatens has 35 years of experience at NASA in both the space station program and in development and management of the life support systems for human spaceflight missions. She began her NASA career in 1985 at the agency’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, where she held various leadership positions, including systems lead for the station’s regenerative environmental control and life support system (ECLSS), ECLSS division chief, and manager for the Orion Crew Support and Thermal Systems.
She is the recipient of the NASA Outstanding Leadership and Exceptional Achievement medals. She holds a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology.
For more than 20 years, humans have lived and worked continuously aboard the International Space Station, advancing scientific knowledge and demonstrating new technologies, making research breakthroughs not possible on Earth that will enable long-duration human and robotic exploration into deep space. Under this unique international partnership, 242 people from 19 countries have visited the station, which has hosted more than 3,000 research investigations from researchers in 108 countries and areas.