NASA Selectes Admiral Cantrell for Independent Technical Authority

Press Release From: NASA HQ
Posted: Friday, June 4, 2004

NASA Administrator Sean O'Keefe today selected Rear Admiral (Ret.) Walter H. Cantrell to help establish and lead the agency's independent technical authority within its engineering, operations and safety organizations.

Cantrell joins NASA as Deputy Chief Engineer for Independent Technical Authority (ITA), effective June 7. He has served on NASA's Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel (ASAP) and as a member of the Stafford-Covey Task Group (SCTG) assessing the agency's return to flight implementation efforts.

"One of the most difficult Columbia Accident Investigation Board organizational recommendations is that we develop an independent technical authority to assure engineering excellence," said Administrator O'Keefe. "Walt's role will be to guide the development and implementation process for us. He is no stranger to the NASA family and brings a tremendous amount of experience to this agency. With his hands-on engineering and technical background, he knows what an exemplary independent technical authority needs to be."

Cantrell retired from the U.S. Navy in 1995 after serving as Commander, Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command. During his distinguished career, he served in senior engineering positions and had program management responsibilities for design and acquisition of nuclear submarines.

After retiring from the Navy, he joined Global Associates Limited as Executive Director for Technology and Systems and was President of the Signal Processing Systems Division. Most recently, he was Program Director, Land Level Transfer Facility, Bath Iron Works, responsible for the design and construction of a $260 million state-of-the-art shipbuilding facility.

"Walt has extensive experience within the public sector and private industry in leading large and complex organizations during a time of change," added Administrator O'Keefe. "He'll be instrumental in implementing a comprehensive, independent, internal organization oversight of our engineering systems and operations. We're delighted to have him as a part of our team," Administrator O'Keefe said.

He will report to NASA Chief Engineer Theron Bradley, Jr. Cantrell will develop, issue and enforce policies and requirements necessary to develop standardization for the conduct of all NASA technical work. He will oversee and direct senior personnel assigned to execute technical decision making for NASA. Cantrell also will serve as the senior liaison with the external oversight Stafford-Covey Return to Flight Task Group.

The Columbia Accident Investigation Board (CAIB) recommended developing a plan for an ITA before NASA returns to Space Shuttle flight operations. NASA completed the agency's plan for the ITA. Cantrell will help implement the plan well before returning to flight operations, exceeding the CAIB recommendations and ensuring early review of engineering and operational systems for safe return to flight.

Cantrell graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy, Annapolis, Md., in 1958 with a bachelor's degree in Naval Science. He received a master's degree in Naval Architecture, Marine and Naval Engineering and a NavEng (Professional Degree) from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, in 1965. He is a graduate of the Senior Officials in National Security Program, JFK School of Government at Harvard University.

For information about NASA, ASAP and SCTG on the Internet, visit:

// end //

More news releases and status reports or top stories.

Please follow SpaceRef on Twitter and Like us on Facebook.