More About NASA SLS Engineers


Teresa Vanhooser, Deputy Director / Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC)


In 2000, she was appointed to the Senior Executive Service, the personnel system that covers most of the top managerial, supervisory and policy positions in the executive branch of the federal government.

From 2004 to 2007, she was co-deputy director of the Engineering Directorate at Marshall. Under her leadership, the organization designed, tested, evaluated and operated hardware and software associated with space transportation, spacecraft systems and science instruments and payloads under development at the center. The directorate also manages the Payload Operations Center at Marshall -- the command post for scientific research on the International Space Station.

Ms. Vanhooser served as deputy director of the Flight Projects Directorate in 2004. She was responsible for project management, design, development, integration, testing and operations of ground and flight systems for the space station, along with overseeing operations of the Chandra X-ray Observatory -- the world’s most powerful X-ray telescope.

The directorate also managed the multi-purpose logistics modules, or moving vans used to carry supplies via the space shuttle to the station. 
From 2000 to 2004, she served as manager of the Payload Operations and Integration Department, overseeing all space station science research experiment operations, payload training and safety programs for the station crew and ground support personnel, and the development, integration and delivery of multiple payload racks.

From 1987 to 2000, Ms. Vanhooser served in the Flight Projects Office in a variety of leadership positions. She was manager of the Space Station Utilization Office from 1997 to 2000, where she was responsible for the space station ExPRESS racks, formally named the Expedite the Processing of Experiments to the Space Station. She oversaw development and integration of the racks and pallets, as well as station payload operations.

From 1994 to 1997, she was mission manager of Microgravity Science Laboratory-1, a mission in which a series of 29 experiments were performed in a pressurized Spacelab module onboard the shuttle. She was assistant mission manager from 1987 to 1994 of the first ATLAS mission, and later managed the ATLAS-2 mission -- the shuttle-borne, remote-sensing laboratory that studied Earth's atmosphere, as well as the sun's influence on Earth and its climate system.

She began her NASA career at Marshall in 1980 as an engineer in the Ground Systems Analysis Branch, where she was responsible for defining, developing and documenting requirements for integration and testing of payloads for the Spacelab carrier, used to conduct science experiments in the shuttle’s payload bay.

Todd May, Program Manager / NASA SLS at MSFC


From 2006 to 2007, he was the deputy manager of Marshall’s Science and Mission Systems Office, helping lead the organization responsible for all Marshall non-launch vehicle programs and projects, including science. These included science programs and projects such as In-Space Propulsion, focused on new propulsion technologies for interplanetary travel; NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory and Gravity Probe B Programs; and the Discovery and New Frontiers Program Office. These also included human spaceflight projects supporting the International Space Station and Constellation programs.

From 2004 to 2006, Mr. May served as the manager of NASA’s Discovery and New Frontiers Program Office at the Marshall Center. The program office manages opportunities for the science community to propose full scientific investigations to explore the solar system including missions to explore distant planets such as Pluto and Mercury, encounter comets and asteroids, and return scientific samples from deep space.

From 2002 to 2005, he was program integration manager of NASA's Gravity Probe B program — a mission to test Albert Einstein's general theory of relativity. He was responsible for managing cost, schedule and flight readiness of the Gravity Probe B spacecraft. Gravity Probe B launched in April 2004 and completed data-collection in October 2005.

In 1998, Mr. May was named as the Marshall Center project manager for the space station “Quest” airlock module — a 6.5-ton, decompression chamber that allows astronauts to don spacesuits and perform space walks from the station. He led the team constructing the module through integration, test, successful launch and on-orbit commissioning in 2001.

In 1996, he became deputy manager of the team working with Russia on the space station at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston. From 1994 to 1996, he led a Johnson Center team that evaluated materials and processes used for the space station. He started his career at NASA in 1991 as an engineer in the Marshall Center’s Materials and Processes Laboratory.

A native of Fairhope, Ala., Mr. May earned a bachelor’s degree in materials engineering from Auburn University in Auburn, Ala. in 1990. He has completed all coursework at Auburn University for a doctorate in materials science. In 2005, he was granted a NASA Level IV Program Manager Certification, the highest possible certification for NASA managers. Mr. May has completed many executive- and management-level training courses, including courses at the Sloan School of Business at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT); the Federal Executive Institute’s Leadership for a Democratic Society; and NASA’s The Human Element, an advanced interpersonal skills course taught at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md.

Michael Kynard, SLS Liquid Engines Element Manager



From 2001-2003, Mr. Kynard was systems and requirements team lead in the Space Shuttle Main Engine Project. He oversaw all technical issues related to shuttle main engine systems requirements. He was an engine systems engineer from 1999 to 2001, working in the same area within the project.

Mr. Kynard served as an engineer from 1992 to 1999 in the Propulsion Laboratory in the engine systems branch of the Science and Engineering Directorate at the Marshall Center. He was the lead point-of-contact for all shuttle main engine development activities. Mr. Kynard also performed systems analysis on the design and testing of the main engines.

From 1989 to 1992, he was the Marshall Center representative at NASA’s Stennis Space Center near Bay St. Louis, Miss., where he oversaw the testing of the shuttle main engines.

He worked as an engineer in Marshall’s Information and Electronic Systems Laboratory from 1987 to 1989 at the Marshall Center. His duties included working on the shuttle main engine controller software, which monitors the engine system to ensure proper function.

Mr. Kynard was a cooperative student from 1985 to 1987 in the Gamma Ray Observatory at Marshall. He worked with NASA engineers in building the initial brass boards for the Glast Burst Monitor experiment; a detector aimed at recording high energy phenomena such as gamma-ray bursts in space.

During his NASA career, Mr. Kynard has received numerous awards and honors. In 1997, he received a Silver Snoopy Award, given by the Astronaut Corps for outstanding service to the shuttle program. He was twice honored with a NASA Exceptional Achievement Medal; once in 1992 for his work in testing the shuttle main engines and again in 2010 for his leadership in bringing the J-2X development to Critical Design Review. In 1996, he received a Marshall Space Flight Center Director’s Commendation for his work with STS-72, which launched in 1996 to capture and return to Earth a Japanese microgravity research spacecraft. Mr. Kynard also has received several group achievement awards.

He has co-written several American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics papers, and is the author of a systems and engineering paper on space shuttle main engine testing that was published in Aerospace Magazine.  

A native of Moundville, Alabama, Mr. Kynard graduated in 1987 with a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa.

John Rector, NASA SLS Stages Element Green Run Test Manager / MSFC


From 2004 to 2007, Rector held the position of Reliability and Quality Assurance Engineer of the ET Project Office. His major responsibility was the Safety and Mission Assurance (S&MA) of the External Tank. He was the lead S&MA Engineer for the Bipod Redesign and the Protuberance Air Load (PAL) Ramp Removal during the Return To Flight (RTF) and STS-114 in-flight anomalies investigation. He initiated and participated in STS-114 investigations and risk management studies required to find solutions to the ET design problems.

He began his NASA career in 2002 as a Contractor for Hernandez Inc., as a S&MA Reliability and Quality Assurance Engineer for the ET Project. During these 18 months, he responsible for defining, developing, and documenting requirements for integration into hazard analysis, failure effects mode analysis and critical items lists. Rector was a key member of the S&MA team during the STS-114 in-flight anomaly.

Prior to NASA, Rector spent 8 years as the Development manager with an automotive company Chiptec Inc. in Decatur, Alabama and started his engineering career at Teledyne Still-man in Cookeville, Tennessee. While at Chiptec, he held multiple engineering positions, but was ultimately responsible for the engineering design and manufacturing of approximately 65,000 CNC machined parts/day for Honda, Saturn, Volvo, and BMW. At Teledyne, his first engineering position was as a product engineer for the Amana/GE bake and broil production lines. He spent 3 years developing products for Teledyne.