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Pelfrey: Marshall Center continues leading in new era of space exploration

For more than six decades, Marshall Space Flight Center has provided NASA with mission-critical design, development, integration and operation of the launch and space systems required for space exploration and scientific discovery. From the monumental accomplishments of the Apollo missions and extraordinary scientific discoveries using the Chandra space telescope and the International Space Station, to the groundbreaking advancements we are leading for the Artemis campaign, Marshall and the northern Alabama community have always been at the forefront of our nation’s space endeavors.

Our evolution is evident through many of our current capabilities and facilities, like the Huntsville Operations Support Center, which operates 24/7/365 science operations on the International Space Station and is now preparing to operate experiments on the lunar surface. We continue to draw from our rich heritage in propulsion to advance the Space Launch System, part of NASA’s backbone for deep space exploration, and to develop new spacecraft using solar sails and nuclear thermal propulsion. Marshall is leading the way in new operating models through our partnerships to develop the next human lunar landers with the Human Landing System program. We have also built key partnerships with industry to utilize our facilities for critical testing on rocket engines and inflatable habitats. Many of you have probably heard our noisy rumblings around Redstone Arsenal! 

As we look forward, Marshall has a robust strategic plan to enable a bright future. This plan will require hard work, strategic partnerships, and an agile mindset. Our talented workforce is essential as they bring world-class skills and capabilities, innovative ideas, and a passion for exploration and discovery. Strategic partnerships enable us to bring the best collaborative opportunities to solve hard problems, together. With all these components, I am confident Marshall will continue to be a leader in exploration, science, and technology development.

It’s an understatement to say I’m humbled and honored to serve as the 15th director of the Marshall Space Flight Center. I accept this opportunity with a profound appreciation for the rich history and legacy of our center, our community and Team Redstone; fully aware of the incredible achievements and contributions that have defined our journey in space exploration. My leadership priorities include forming new partnerships and capturing new mission assignments, increased focus on employee development and improved efficiency in our internal organizational operations and integration. This will only be possible with the outstanding leadership team and workforce that is working hard each day to advance our position within the space enterprise. 

As we prepare to celebrate Marshall’s 65th birthday next year, we are ready to embrace a transformative shift to remain a leader in space exploration, science and technology. We truly are at the forefront of a new era of exploration, opening doors to knowledge and understanding that have the potential to transform the course of our world. I cannot wait to see what we accomplish in the upcoming years. There is so much more to Marshall, and there’s more to gain when we do it together. 

Joseph Pelfrey is the center director of NASA’s Marshall Space Flight. He leads Marshall’s nearly 7,000 onsite and near-site civil service and contractor employees and oversees its annual budget of approximately $5 billion. He also helps guide Marshall’s broad portfolio of human spaceflight, science, and technology development efforts, which touches nearly every mission NASA pursues. Pelfrey previously served as deputy center director since his appointment in April 2022. A native of Cheraw, S.C., Pelfrey received a bachelor’s degree in aerospace engineering from Auburn University in 2000. He resides in Huntsville with his wife, Nicole, and daughter, Adelyn.


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