Brian D. Welch, a veteran public affairs officer for the space agency and NASA's Director of Media Services, died Friday, Nov. 24, after suffering a heart attack. He was 42.
"All of us at NASA are stunned and saddened by this tragic loss," said NASA Administrator Daniel S. Goldin. "Brian's love and enthusiasm for space flight and exploration was infectious. He approached his job with a passion and a purpose and truly embodied the spirit of this agency."
As Director of Media Services, Welch led many of the agency's public outreach efforts. He was responsible for overall agency news operations, NASA Television and the agency's Internet efforts.
Welch began his NASA career as a public affairs cooperative education student at the Langley Research Center, Hampton, VA, in 1979. In 1981, he moved to the Johnson Space Center, Houston, TX, to become editor of the Center newspaper, the Space News Roundup.
In 1984, Welch became a public affairs mission commentator, providing real-time descriptions from the Mission Control Center during Space Shuttle flights. He also served as Deputy News Chief at the center, manager of the JSC mission commentary team and newsroom manager during Shuttle flights. He served ten- months at NASA Headquarters as speechwriter for Administrator Goldin, before being appointed Chief of News and Information in 1994. Welch was named Director of Media Services in 1998.
"His passing is a tremendous loss for all of us," said Peggy Wilhide, Associate Administrator for the Office of NASA Public Affairs. "Our thoughts and prayers go out to Brian's family, his many friends, as well as the many members of his extended family here at NASA."
Welch was a graduate of Murray State University, Murray, KY, and a native of Fulton, KY. His mother, one brother and one sister survive him.