HUNTSVILLE, Ala. - Todd May, the man who has led Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville since late 2015, is retiring. He made the announcement to his staff today.
NASA Adminstrator Charles Bolden officially named May as MSFC's director in February of 2016; months after he was named "acting director." He has been part of NASA for more than 25 years.
In his announcement, May identified the end of his tenure as the end of July. He says he plans to stay in the area, but didn't say if he has any future career plans. Jody Singer will take over as interim director upon his departure,
May told employees, "My confidence in you is high, but one thing that made the decision easier, is my confidence in our leadership team at Marshall and across the Agency. Jody, Steve, and Paul are running at peak efficiency, and Administrator Bridenstine is ready to take us to even new heights."
WHNT News 19 talked with May shortly after the announcement.
"I kind of entered into this with mixed emotions.It's always tough to put something down that you're working on but I also know that the center's in really good shape right now," he said. "We're building the world's largest rocket. We are literally doubling the amount of research on the Space Station. We just had a launch out in White Sands, New Mexico last week. Our employee's satisfaction is higher than it's ever been. We've got the safest year on record so far and our budgets are up. All the indicators are that the center's in a great spot which is a good indication to me that my work here is done and it's time for me to move on to the next phase."
May did not specify where his next phase will take him
He explained that his wish for employees is that they keep doing what they do. He said they will continue to perform in the face of challenges. Those include getting Space Launch System hardware finished, maintaining high research hours, and taking on new missions.
"We're working on the next generation of life support, 'close-loop life support,' for deep space exploration. The agency is starting to turn it's head towards lunar outposts out in the cis-lunar space and that's also in our wheelhouse. We've got the Europa mission added to our portfolio of planetary missions," May explained. "We've got a lot on our plate right now and so just being able to manage the work we've got with the workforce we've got in place is a challenge, but that's one we all came to work at NASA to do."
May remains humble as he closes out his NASA career.
"In a lot of ways, it's not really about me. It's about this team and what they're doing already. I want them to stay focused on it and continue to reach new heights and reveal the unknown for all mankind," he explained.