NASA Names Michael O'Brien as New Assistant Administrator for External Relations

Press Release From: NASA HQ
Posted: Monday, August 11, 2003

NASA Administrator Sean O'Keefe today announced the appointment of Michael O'Brien as the Assistant Administrator for External Relations, effective immediately. O'Brien replaces John Schumacher who became the NASA Chief of Staff in July.

"Mike is a proven leader who brings an impressive blend of international and interagency experience to this important assignment. He is well known and respected by our international partners. He will serve NASA's interests extremely well as we move forward in the challenging period ahead," Administrator O'Keefe said.

As Assistant Administrator for External Relations, O'Brien will be responsible for NASA's interaction with Executive Branch offices and agencies; international relations for each NASA Enterprise; administration of export control and international technology transfer programs; the NASA History Office; NASA advisory councils and commissions.

O'Brien has served as Deputy Assistant Administrator for External Relations (Space Flight) since 1994. He was responsible for the international aspects of NASA's human space flight activities. He led the team that negotiated the agreements for the International Space Station with the space agencies of Europe, Japan, Canada, and Russia. O'Brien also was responsible for agreements related to Space Shuttle flights for international astronauts and NASA relations with other space agencies, such as those of Brazil and Israel.

O'Brien came to NASA from the United States Navy. He served as a naval aviator in command positions and in Washington on the staffs of the Chief of Naval Operations and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. As an advisor to the Chairman concerning political-military policy in the Middle East, Africa, and Southwest Asia, he traveled widely in the Persian Gulf area for bilateral discussions with the defense forces of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain and other nations in the region.

He also served as the Deputy Director for Research at the Institute for National Strategic Studies in Washington. O'Brien was Commanding Officer of U.S. Naval Station Roosevelt Roads, Puerto Rico and commanded a carrier-based squadron.

O'Brien graduated with high distinction from the University of Virginia. He holds a Master of Science in Physics from Cornell University and a Master of Science in Aeronautical Systems from the University of West Florida. As an Olmsted Scholar, he performed research in International Relations and Strategic Studies at the Graduate Institute of International Relations in Geneva, Switzerland. O'Brien is also a graduate of the French Ecole Militaire in Paris, France.

O'Brien's awards include the Presidential Rank of Meritorious Executive, the NASA Exceptional Service Medal, the Defense Superior Service Medal, two Legions of Merit and two Air Medals. He is a member of Phi Beta Kappa.

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