New Kennedy Space Center director

William Parsons assumes leadership as James Kennedy begins his retirement.Provided by NASA Headquarters, Washington, D.C.
By | Published: January 5, 2007 | Last updated on May 18, 2023
Kennedy Space Center
NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida, has a new director this week. William Parsons will lead the space program into the lunar-exploration era as the center’s ninth director.
January 4, 2007
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida gets new leadership today as William W. Parsons assumes the role as the facility’s ninth director, succeeding James W. Kennedy, who is retiring from the agency.
Parsons Kennedy director
William Parsons previously served as NASA’s Kennedy Space Center deputy director and Space Shuttle Program manager before being named director in September 2006.
“I’ve known and worked with Jim Kennedy for well over a decade, and I believe that no better appointment to the role of Kennedy Space Center director could have been made in the aftermath of the Columbia tragedy,” said NASA Administrator Michael Griffin at Headquarters in Washington.

In September, Griffin named Parsons as Kennedy’s successor. He has served as the center’s deputy director since February.

“It is a tremendous privilege to follow in the footsteps of extraordinary people who have held the position of director of the Kennedy Space Center,” said Parsons. “Jim’s strong technical leadership and heartfelt love of the space program have served the center well, and he will be truly missed as he begins this new chapter in his life.”

After the Columbia tragedy, Parsons led the Return to Flight activities for the agency as Space Shuttle Program manager and played a major role in the success of the Discovery STS-114 mission in 2005.

Parsons previously served as director of NASA’s Stennis Space Center in Mississippi. He was first assigned to Stennis in 1997 as the chief of operations of the Propulsion Test Directorate. Parsons moved to NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston to become the director of the Center Operations Directorate and later served as that center’s deputy director. He returned to Stennis in 2001 where he was director of the Center Operations and Support Directorate and was named center director in August 2002.

In 1990, Parsons joined the NASA team at Kennedy Space Center as a launch site support manager in the Shuttle Operations Directorate. He also worked as an executive management intern and later as the shuttle flow director of the Shuttle Operations Directorate at Kennedy. In 1996, he became manager of the Space Station Hardware Integration Office at Kennedy.

“The thousands of people who make up the team at Kennedy are the most talented and dedicated group of professionals I have had the honor to work with,” said Parsons. “I look forward to the future and being a part of completing the International Space Station and launching the vehicles that will take us back to the moon.”

Parsons has received numerous honors, including the Presidential Rank Award (Meritorious Executive); NASA’s Exceptional Service Medal and Distinguished Service Medal; and the Silver Snoopy, awarded by astronauts for outstanding performance in flight safety and mission success.