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NASA has merged two leadership offices into one big one to follow US space strategy

The logo of NASA, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.
(Image credit: NASA)

NASA is redesigning its leadership roles and two of its offices.

The agency announced Monday (Nov. 1) that it is adding several new leadership positions and merging two offices into a new one. The shakeup is taking place about six months since NASA administrator Bill Nelson was sworn into office Nov. 3.

The senior administrative change is meant to move management into key positions to address such matters as the coronavirus pandemic, industry partnerships or internal technology transformation work, the agency said.

"At NASA, we always have our eyes on the future. This is how we lead, thinking critically and strategically about the challenges we may face — both internally and externally," NASA administrator Bill Nelson said in an agency statement (opens in new tab) Monday (Nov. 1) announcing the changes. 

Additionally, the agency announced a new Office of Technology, Policy, and Strategy (OTPS) "to provide data- and evidence-driven technology, policy, and strategy advice to NASA leadership." The new office combines two previous entities: the Office of Strategic Engagements and Assessments, and the Office of the Chief Technologist.

"As we continue to push the boundaries of exploration, OTPS and these leadership positions will ensure our cutting-edge technology, strategy, and policy shape our agency’s success," Nelson continued. "We also are increasing our analysis and guidance on geopolitical issues and risks that NASA, or the space industry, may be facing."

The full list of new positions are:

  • Douglas Terrier, new associate director for vision and strategy at NASA’s Johnson Space Center (JSC) in Houston. (Terrier is leaving the chief technologist position.)
  • Bhavya Lal, associate administrator for OTPS. Lal will also serve as acting chief technologist.
  • Melanie Saunders, chief resilience officer, who will focus on the coronavirus response.
  • Casey Swails, deputy associate administrator for business operations. Swails will be principal advisor to NASA associate administrator Bob Cabana.
  • Tom Cremins, associate administrator for space security interests. Cremins will represent NASA in discussions with its federal agency partners.

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Elizabeth Howell, Ph.D., is a contributing writer for Space.com (opens in new tab) since 2012. As a proud Trekkie and Canadian, she tackles topics like spaceflight, diversity, science fiction, astronomy and gaming to help others explore the universe. Elizabeth's on-site reporting includes two human spaceflight launches from Kazakhstan, and embedded reporting from a simulated Mars mission in Utah. She holds a Ph.D. and M.Sc (opens in new tab). in Space Studies from the University of North Dakota, and a Bachelor of Journalism from Canada's Carleton University. Her latest book, NASA Leadership Moments, is co-written with astronaut Dave Williams. Elizabeth first got interested in space after watching the movie Apollo 13 in 1996, and still wants to be an astronaut someday.