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 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
Staff Writer, Spaceflight

Elizabeth Howell (she/her), Ph.D., is a staff writer in the spaceflight channel since 2022 covering diversity, education and gaming as well. She was contributing writer for for 10 years before joining full-time. Elizabeth's reporting includes multiple exclusives with the White House and Office of the Vice-President of the United States, an exclusive conversation with aspiring space tourist (and NSYNC bassist) Lance Bass, speaking several times with the International Space Station, witnessing five human spaceflight launches on two continents, flying parabolic, working inside a spacesuit, and participating in a simulated Mars mission. Her latest book, "Why Am I Taller?", is co-written with astronaut Dave Williams. Elizabeth holds a Ph.D. and M.Sc. in Space Studies from the University of North Dakota, a Bachelor of Journalism from Canada's Carleton University and a Bachelor of History from Canada's Athabasca University. Elizabeth is also a post-secondary instructor in communications and science at several institutions since 2015; her experience includes developing and teaching an astronomy course at Canada's Algonquin College (with Indigenous content as well) to more than 1,000 students since 2020. Elizabeth first got interested in space after watching the movie Apollo 13 in 1996, and still wants to be an astronaut someday. Mastodon: