Holly Ridings is at her Flight Director console in the space station flight control room in the Mission Control Center at NASA’s Johnson Space Center on Nov. 17, 2008, for day four of the space shuttle Endeavour’s STS-126 mission. (Bill Stafford/NASA)
NASA announced Monday that Texas A&M University graduate Holly Ridings has been named its new chief flight director, making her the first woman in the agency’s 60-year history to hold the position.
Ridings, who graduated from the College of Engineering with a bachelor of science degree in mechanical engineering in 1996, will lead the group that directs human spaceflight missions from the Mission Control Center at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston.
“Holly has proven herself a leader among a group of highly talented flight directors,” Director of Flight Operations Norm Kelly said in a NASA press release. “I know she will excel in this unique and critical leadership position providing direction for the safety and success of human spaceflight missions. She will lead the team during exciting times as they adapt to support future missions with commercial partners and beyond low-Earth orbit.”
Ridings will manage a group of 32 active flight directors and flight directors-in-training who oversee a variety of human spaceflight missions involving the International Space Station, American-made commercial crew spacecraft and Orion missions, according to a NASA press release.
Ridings served as the lead flight director for notable NASA missions that include International Space Station mission Expedition 16 in 2007-2008, Space Shuttle Program mission STS-127 in 2009, and the first SpaceX Dragon cargo spacecraft mission to the space station in 2012.
Kelly selected Ridings to replace Norm Knight, who has held the position since 2012.
The Amarillo, Texas native joined NASA in 1998 as a flight controller in the thermal operations group before serving as a flight director in 2005.