NASA chief technologist Bobby Braun, a key ally in the nation’s capital for Langley Research Center, will resign his post next month.
Braun, who began his career at Langley working on the Mars Pathfinder program, was appointed to the job in Feb. 2010. He is the agency’s “principle advocate and advisor on matters concerning agency-wide technology policy and programs,” according to NASA.
The office he leads is expected to help NASA shift to more advanced spacecraft and robotics for planetary exploration. It also is tasked with developing new technologies that can create spin-off industries.
Braun’s resignation comes as NASA’s manned spaceflight program faces an uncertain future. President Barack Obama canceled the underfunded and behind schedule Constellation program, which planned to return astronauts to the moon.
The move, Obama said, will help NASA focus on developing new technology. Langley expects to play a central role in that effort by directing the agency’s “Game Changing Technology Development” program, the middle of a three-tiered system focusing on research and development.
Noting stiff competition among NASA’s 10 centers for funding, Langley officials counted Braun as a chief ally at NASA headquarters in Washington, D.C.
A statement issued by NASA on Tuesday said Braun will return to the Georgia Tech, where he previously worked as a professor and researcher.
It also said that longtime Langley engineer Michael Gazarik has been named director of the Space Technology program at the Office of the Chief Technologist.