Robert Lightfoot is the longest-serving acting administrator of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) in the organization’s history, holding office from January 20th, 2017 until April 23th, 2018. The administrator is the highest-level decision maker in the agency, serving as the senior space science advisor to the U.S. President. Robert worked for NASA for about three decades, holding positions such as associate administrator of NASA, director of the Marshall Space Flight Center, and assistant associate administrator of the Space Shuttle Program.
“Our work here at NASA leads the world–in size, in scope, in impact,” he said during an agency-wide town hall, the State of NASA address, in 2017. “[NASA] has a historic and enduring purpose as an agency: discover, explore and develop. These correspond to all our missions of scientific discovery, missions of human exploration, development of aeronautic systems that we do as a nation–we inspire the next generation, inject that innovation into the national economy, provide data to national leaders to solve some of the biggest problems that this nation has, AND we support this global engagement and diplomacy that is so important to the role we play as a primary leader in the international part of what this agency does.”
Robert joined the Advisory Board of Firefly Aerospace in 2018. He has received several awards throughout his career, including the NASA Exceptional Achievement Medal in 1996, the Presidential Rank Award for Meritorious Executives in 2006, the NASA Outstanding Leadership Medal in 2007, and the Presidential Rank Award for Distinguished Executives in 2010, which is the highest honor that can be received for federal government work.
In 2010, he was inducted into the State of Alabama Engineering Hall of Fame. He is also a member of the University of Alabama Mechanical Engineering Advisory Board.
After leaving NASA, Robert became the president of the LSINC Corporation.
He is currently the vice president of strategy and business development at Lockheed Martin Space, working with fellow shaker Marillyn Hewson.