Trump Appoints New Members of NASA Transition Team

Donald Trump (Credit: Michael Vadon)
Donald Trump (Credit: Michael Vadon)

President Elect Donald Trump has appointed six new members to the NASA transition team, including Steve Cook, who formerly managed the agency’s Ares program, and retired astronaut Sandra Magnus.

Steve Cook, acting president of Dynetics Technical Services in Huntsville, Ala., led NASA’s Ares program from July 2005 to August 2009. The program included the Ares I and Ares V heavy-lift vehicle and the Orion crew spacecraft for deep-space exploration.

The Obama Administration canceled the programs. However, Congress resurrected the Ares V as the Space Launch System and kept the Orion program in place.

At Dynetics, Cook has been involved in support Aerojet Rocketdyne’s development of the AR-1 engine. He also supported the company’s work on Stratolaunch Systems’ aircraft, which is designed to air launch satellite boosters.

Magnus spent a total of 157 days in space on various spaceflights, including 134 days aboard the International Space Station. She was a mission specialist on the final flight of the space shuttle, STS-135, in July 2011.

Magnus left the space agency to become executive director of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics in 2012.

Other members appointed to the NASA transitions team include:

  • Greg Autry — Assistant Professor of Clinical Entrepreneurship, University of California Marshall School of Business;
  • Jack Burns –Professor, Department of Astrophysical and Planetary Sciences, University of Colorado Boulder;
  • Rodney Liesveld — former Senior Advisor for Strategy and Policy Formulation,  the NASA Office of Administrator; and,
  • Jeff Waksman — former research fellow, U.S. House of Representatives.

Autry has written extensively about commercial space activities. He is currently co-writing a book titled, “The Meek Shall Inherit the Earth: The Entrepreneurial Space Race.”

Chris Shank, who formerly worked for House Science Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas), is heading up the NASA transition team. He was a high-level official at the space agency under then Administrator Mike Griffin from 2005 to 2009.