HOUSTON (NASA PR) — NASA has named Holly Ridings its new chief flight director, making her the first woman to lead the elite group that directs human spaceflight missions from the Mission Control Center at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston.
Director of Flight Operations Brian Kelly selected Ridings to replace Norm Knight, who has held the position since 2012. Knight now is the deputy director of Flight Operations.
“Holly has proven herself a leader among a group of highly talented flight directors,” Kelly said. “I know she will excel in this unique and critical leadership position providing direction for the safety and success of human spaceflight missions. She will lead the team during exciting times as they adapt to support future missions with commercial partners and beyond low-Earth orbit.”
In her new role, Ridings will manage the group of 32 active flight directors and flight directors-in-training who oversee a variety of human spaceflight missions involving the International Space Station, including integrating American-made commercial crew spacecraft into the fleet of vehicles servicing the orbiting laboratory, as well as Orion spacecraft missions to the Moon and beyond.
Ridings, a native of Amarillo, Texas, earned a Bachelor of Science degree in mechanical engineering from Texas A&M University in 1996. She joined NASA in 1998 as a flight controller in the thermal operations group.
She was selected as a flight director in 2005. Since then, she has served as the lead flight director for several missions including International Space Station mission Expedition 16 in 2007-2008, Space Shuttle Program mission STS-127 in 2009, and the first SpaceX Dragon cargo spacecraft mission to the space station in 2012.
Learn more about what flight directors do with our Everything About Mission Control Houston video featuring Flight Director Mary Lawrence.