Retired Navy Admiral and former high-ranking NASA official Craig Steidle has stepped down as the president of the Commercial Spaceflight Federation for medical reasons, according to CSF Chairman Eric Anderson.
“The entire commercial spaceflight industry recognizes Admiral Steidle’s tremendous work during his service to CSF,” Anderson said in a statement quoted by Space News. “He has been able to accomplish much since taking the helm and the Federation wishes him well and thanks him for all his hard work.”
Steidle succeeded Bretton Alexander as CSF president on May 15. The federation has not named a successor yet.
Steidle has a long and distinguished track record in aerospace as a former senior NASA official, flag officer, program manager, aerospace engineer, Naval aviator and combat veteran, and technology innovator. At NASA, Steidle served as the first Associate Administrator for Exploration Systems, one of the most senior positions in the agency. In 2004 and 2005, Steidle built the Exploration Systems Mission Directorate from the ground up into a $3 billion a year organization, personally initiating several innovative programs including efforts to foster commercial space transportation to the International Space Station, the Centennial Challenges prize program, and a far-ranging program of advanced technology development.
During his tenure at the Navy, Steidle became most well known for serving in the mid 1990’s as Director of the Joint Strike Fighter Program – the single largest Department of Defense development program in history. As program manager, he implemented the innovative “fly-off” competition between the X-32 and X-35 prototype aircraft. Under his command, the Joint Strike Fighter Program was awarded the David Packard Excellence in Acquisition Award.
Steidle also commanded the Navy’s F/A-18 Program, naval aviation’s largest production, research and development program, as well as the largest foreign military sales program, and the Secretary of Defense presented Steidle with the Navy’s Outstanding Program Manager Award.
Earlier in his career, Steidle flew carrier night combat missions as an attack pilot during the Vietnam War and has served as a test pilot and test pilot instructor. A graduate with merit as an aerospace engineer from the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md., Steidle also has M.S. degrees in aerospace engineering and aeronautical systems management from Virginia Tech and the University of Southern California, respectively. He is a distinguished visiting professor at the U.S. Naval Academy, and serves as a consultant to the Department of Defense.