Vanessa Wyche Becomes First Black Woman To Lead NASA Center


Photo: Ethan Miller/Getty Images

NASA announced the historic appointment of Vanessa Wyche as the new director of the Johnson Space Center on Wednesday (June 30). Wyche, a 31-year veteran of NASA, is the first Black woman to head up a space center and is one of two women selected as the agency’s newest directors. 

“I’m humbled and honored to be chosen to lead more than 10,000 employees at Johnson Space Center, who work each day to enhance scientific and technological knowledge via space exploration to benefit all of humankind,” Wyche said in a news release

In her role, Wyche will oversee the center critical to NASA’s human spaceflight missions and is home to the astronaut corps, International Space Station, the Orion Program, and more, the agency said. Wyche is a native of South Carolina and studied bioengineering at Clemson University.

“I think in the next 20 years, we’re going to see humans on Mars,” Wyche said. “We’re currently building hardware systems that will have the ability to take us further into the solar system than we’ve been before,” she added. Wyche has served as deputy director of the Johnson center since 2018. 

NASA also named Janet Petro this week as the newest director of the Kennedy Space Center, making her the first woman to assume the role.

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