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Spence Armstrong to Retire from NASA

Press Release From: NASA HQ
Posted: Wednesday, November 27, 2002

Spence M. (Sam) Armstrong, Senior Advisor to NASA Administrator Sean O'Keefe, will retire from NASA effective Dec. 31, ending a career of public service that spans nearly half a century.

As Senior Advisor to the Administrator, Armstrong promotes partnerships with academia, the Department of Defense and industry. He is the ombudsman for academic institutions in such matters as export control, information technology security, NASA's grants process and prepublication review. He initiated a series of six interactive Webcasts with academic institutions to help them understand NASA and how to partner with the agency. Each Webcast had between 300 and 400 participants.

During his 11 years at NASA, Armstrong has been honored with the Presidential Rank of Meritorious Executive and NASA awards of the Outstanding Leadership Medal and the Exceptional Service Medal. Before joining NASA, he served for 34 years in the U.S. Air Force, retiring with the rank of Lieutenant General.

"General Armstrong has served this nation with exceptional distinction during both his military and NASA careers," said Administrator O'Keefe. "In NASA, he has shown a real ability to lead diverse programs, from aerospace technology to workforce and education. The agency will miss his leadership."

From 1998 to 2000, Armstrong served as the Associate Administrator for Aerospace Technology. In this position he established a system for measuring the technology progress towards the enterprise's recently established Ten Goals. To recognize team and individual contribution to these goals he established the first annual "Turning Goals into Reality Conference".

Armstrong came to NASA in 1991 from the White House-chartered Synthesis Group, which had developed architectures to return humans to the Moon and send them to Mars. He was appointed Associate Administrator for the newly created Office of Human Resources and Education. During his six-and-a-half years in that job, he was responsible for developing NASA's human resources strategic plan and for emphasizing NASA's educational goals. He championed the development of an Candidate Development Program for the Senior Executive Service and a Program Managers Development Program, both of which have been cited as exemplary programs in government and industry.

A native of Columbia, Tenn., Armstrong graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1956 and was commissioned in the U.S. Air Force. After training as a pilot and flying F-100 aircraft he was sent to the University of Michigan, where he received masters degrees in Astronautical and Instrumentation Engineering. Later he graduated from the Air War College and completed short courses at Columbia and Harvard universities.

He completed the yearlong Aerospace Research Pilot School (now called the Test Pilot School) and later served on its faculty in several positions, including Deputy Commandant. In between he served his tour in Southeast Asia with 100 missions over North Vietnam in the F-105. His flight log shows 4,500 hours of flying time in more than 50 aircraft.

In the Air Force, his command positions included group, base, wing and center levels. He served as the Chief of the U.S. Training Mission to Saudi Arabia during the height of the Iran-Iraq war. Before retiring in 1990, his last two assignments were as Vice Commander in Chief of the Military Airlift Command and the Vice Commander of Air Force Systems Command at Andrews Air Force Base.

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