HUNTSVILLE, Ala., July 21, 2016 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Rick Burt has been appointed director of the Safety and Mission Assurance Directorate at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, effective July 31. Steve Cash, who has served as the organization's director since September 2011, is retiring after a 34-year career with NASA.
Burt will have primary management responsibility for planning and directing safety, reliability and quality engineering and assurance operations for Marshall.
"Nothing is more important than the safety of our crews and of the men and women developing the knowledge and technology for living and working in space," said Marshall Director Todd May. "Rick's experience will help us ensure that safety remains paramount as we build and fly the spacecraft that will take human explorers on missions deeper into space than ever before, including on our journey to Mars."
Throughout his 26-year NASA career, Burt has served in multiple technical management and leadership positions. He has been chief safety officer within SMA since 2011. In 2007, he was named manager of the Marshall Engineering Directorate's Test Laboratory. He was appointed to the Senior Executive Service -- the personnel system that covers most of the top managerial, supervisory and policy positions in the executive branch of the federal government -- as manager of the Ares 1 First Stage program in 2006.
Burt was chief engineer of Marshall's Reusable Solid Rocket Motor Project from 2002-2005, responsible for evaluating the project's technical aspects and leading technical reviews in preparation for the Space Shuttle Program's Return to Flight following the Columbia accident. In this role, he served as a trusted agent of the Independent Technical Authority, a key NASA safety organization conducting, supporting and overseeing technical work across the agency to ensure safe and reliable operations and mission success.
He was named deputy manager of the Reusable Solid Rocket Motor Project in 1999, assisting in overall project management, including production, contractor performance evaluation and flight readiness. He was deputy manager of the Space Shuttle Projects Office from 1998-99, overseeing program management interfaces for the development, testing, flight hardware production and performance evaluation of the shuttle propulsion elements.
Burt was technical assistant to the Reusable Solid Rocket Motor Project manager from 1997-98, managing key technical activities such as environmental compliance and obsolescence issues. He was the project's business manager from 1996-97, responsible for the planning and execution of a $400 million annual budget for the production of flight and test solid rocket motors in support of the Space Shuttle Program flight manifest.
He joined NASA in 1990 as an enhancement manager for the Reusable Solid Rocket Motor Project. Prior to his NASA career, he worked for 12 years in numerous leadership positions with the Tennessee Valley Authority's nuclear power program.
A native of Columbia, Tennessee, Burt earned a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering from Tennessee Technological University in Cookeville in 1978.
Burt has received numerous awards and honors, including the NASA Exceptional Achievement Medal in 2013. He was awarded the NASA Outstanding Leadership Medal in 2005 for his chief engineering work in support of the agency's Return to Flight efforts. In 1997, he was selected by astronauts to receive their Silver Snoopy Award for his support of the Reusable Solid Rocket Motor Project. He was a NASA Space Flight Awareness honoree in 1996.
Burt and his wife, Susan, live in Rogersville, Alabama. They have two children, two grandchildren and are expecting a third grandchild in August.
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