NASA Names New Stennis Space Center Director

NEW ORLEANS — On April 29, NASA Administrator Bill Nelson named John Bailey director of the Stennis Space Center near Bay St. Louis, Miss., effective immediately. Bailey had been serving as acting director since January. 

“John will build on his nearly 35 years of federal service to lead our talented workforce at Stennis,” said Nelson in a press release. “So much of NASA runs through Stennis. It is where we hone new and exciting capabilities in aerospace, technology, and deep space exploration. I am confident that John will lead the nation’s largest and premier propulsion test site to even greater success.”

NASA Stennis also is a unique federal city, home to more than 50 resident tenants with a combined workforce of over 5,200. The center tested the SLS (Space Launch System) core stage that helped launch the Artemis I mission. It also is testing all RS-25 engines to help power SLS launches and will conduct flightworthy testing of the agency’s new exploration upper stage prior to its use in space on future Artemis missions to the Moon and beyond.

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The center is a leader in partnering and working with commercial aerospace companies to support their propulsion test projects. It also is expanding as an aerospace and technology hub, and in development of intelligent and autonomous systems needed for deep space exploration.

“This is an exciting time for NASA Stennis, and I am deeply honored to lead its great family of employees who make up this amazing workforce,” Bailey said. “We are dedicated to continuing to provide frontline support to the agency’s missions and initiatives. I look forward to our shared future and success.”

Bailey has more than three decades of federal service with the U.S. Air Force and NASA. As a communications engineer with the U.S. Air Force, Bailey led electronic communications testing worldwide. He joined the NASA Stennis team in 1999 and subsequently served in a variety of roles, managing and leading technical and non-technical organizations and supervising employees with a wide range of skills and backgrounds.

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Bailey was tapped in 2015 to lead the NASA Stennis Engineering and Test Directorate, managing critical rocket propulsion test assets exceeding $2 billion in value and projects more than $221 million. He was named NASA Stennis associate director in 2018 and selected as the center’s deputy director in 2021.

An Alabama native, Bailey holds a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering and a master’s degree in business administration from the University of South Alabama.

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