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International Space Station gets a new director, Robyn Gatens

Robyn Gatens has been named as acting director of the International Space Station at NASA Headquarters by Kathy Lueders, NASA’s associate administrator for Human Exploration and Operations effective August 25,2020. Sam Scimemi, the previous director, has assumed new responsibilities as a special assistant for the agency’s Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate.

Leuders said that Robyn has demonstrated her leadership and strategic vision for the International Space Station and their efforts to enable a robust low-Earth orbit economy. She added that she is confident that Robyn will continue to do so as acting director.

In this role, Gatens is going to be working closely with International space platform Program Manager Joel Montalbano at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston. She will lead strategy, policy, integration, and stakeholder engagement for the space station program at the agency level. Gatens will oversee the program’s execution, manage risks and also provide technical advice for the program.

Gatens has been the deputy director for the International space platform, sharing responsibility with the director for day-to-day management. She engaged in NASA’s strategic planning, leveraging the space platform to enable a strong 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 platform U.S. National Laboratory. Additionally, she is the systems capability leader for environmental control and life support and crew health and performance systems and leads an agency-wide team of system-specific material experts.

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 career with NASA 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 also the recipient of NASA’s Outstanding Leadership and Exceptional Achievement Medals.

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