Joe Rothenberg - A Great Boss

Press Release From: Marshall Space Flight Center
Posted: Sunday, November 25, 2001

Written by NASA MSFC Center Director Art Stephenson. Originally published in the "Marshall Star"

Joe Rothenberg,associate administrator for the Office of Space Flight,has announced he will retire from NASA on Dec 15. I have had the privilege of working for Joe for the past three years. Joe has been responsible for the Space Shuttle and International Space Station Programs - two of NASA' s biggest programs headed by the Johnson Space Center in Houston and supported by Marshall.

Joe has been a great mentor to me as I have tried to learn to be a government employee and manager. Three-and-a-half years ago, I got a call from Joe suggesting that I consider coming to Marshall as Center director. I remember the call very well as I said,"Joe,you have to be kidding. " I was surprised to learn he was very serious.

Joe has never wavered in his steadfast support for Marshall. He has consistently been there to offer me advice and seriously address our concerns. In 1999 he led the charge to gain authority for Marshall to finally,after years of downsizing,be able to hire critical skills at a time when we were getting dangerously close to having inadequate staff to address our missions.

Joe was always been there when we called on him to come to the Center and work with us on issues and to celebrate our successes. Joe never missed our Annual Awards Ceremony,and he was here when we celebrated our 40th anniversary and when we celebrated the one-year successful operation of Chandra.

Photo by Doug Stoffer, NASA/MSFC.
Marshall Center Director Art Stephenson, left, and Joe Rothenberg unveil the portrait of Stephenson during one of many trips Rothenberg made to the Marshall Center.
I can honestly say that I have never worked for a person whom I enjoyed working for more. Joe was there to help and there to move the Agency forward.

On Joe' s watch,the Office of Space Flight has accomplished a great deal. With Joe' s oversight we have repeatedly (success- fully)flown the Space Shuttle - no small achievement consider-ing the many challenges we have heard about in getting ready to fly each mission. Every Shuttle sitting on the launch pad is uniquely different. One of Marshall' s proudest moments was the successful launch and deployment of the Chandra X-Ray Obser-vatory. Joe was a great help in offering advice as we wrestled with many challenges leading up to our launch.

We have also seen the build up of the International Space Station during Joe' s time as head of the Office of Space Flight. Today the Station flies overhead with a permanent crew of three - the third brightest star in the evening sky. This Space Station is the most complex spacecraft ever built and it was built on orbit one piece at a time. I think we will look back on the construction and operation of the Space Station as one of the greatest achievements in space. Joe was there supporting the team of civil servants and contractors that made it possible.

Joe' s greatest strength,I believe,is his constant support of the NASA team,with a background and knowledge that allowed him to make the right decisions. Thanks Joe,for being a great leader/ mentor/boss. We will miss you.

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