A Princeton native is one of six individuals chosen to join the ranks of mission control flight directors at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston.
Rebecca Johnson Wingfield and five other men and women were recently announced as the space agency’s newest flight directors, joining an elite group numbering fewer than 100.
Wingfield is the daughter of Doug and Joann Johnson of Princeton.
After graduating from Caldwell County High School, she earned a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering in 2007 from the University of Kentucky.
She joined the Johnson Space Center’s flight control team the same year as a contractor with United Space Alliance, overseeing maintenance tasks that astronauts perform in space, according to a NASA release.
“She went on to become a CAPCOM, speaking to the crew on behalf of the control team, and a chief training officer, preparing space station crews for their missions,” the release notes.
Wingfield also holds a master’s degree in systems engineering from the University of Houston — Clear Lake.
She and the other new flight directors are “an outstanding group of future tactical leaders for the Flight Operations Directorate,” said Brian Kelly, director of Flight Operations at Johnson.
“We are excited to have them come on board.”
The six new directors bring the total number of flight directors in NASA history to 97.
They will bring the total number of active flight directors currently guiding mission control to 32.
The group will undergo extensive training on flight control, vehicle systems, operational leadership and risk management before assuming their new duties.
As flight directors, they will oversee a variety of human spaceflight missions, including integrating American-made commercial crew spacecraft into the fleet of vehicles servicing the International Space Station.
They will head teams of flight controllers, research and engineering experts, and support personnel around the world and make the real-time decisions critical to keeping NASA astronauts safe in space.
“The job of flight director is not an easy one, and we make these selections very carefully,” said Holly Ridings, acting chief of the Flight Director Office at Johnson.
“We had a great group of applicants, so we were able to choose six individuals who have worked in many areas of human spaceflight. They’ll bring a lot of good experience to the role that will serve NASA well as we undertake new and exciting missions.”