Robert Champion has been reassigned to the position of director of the Office of Center Operations at Marshall Space Flight Center, effective July 4. He succeeds Roy Malone, who retired in February.
With an annual budget of approximately $86 million, the organization includes 120 engineers and specialized civil servants and 700 contractors. Services provided by Center Operations include industrial labor relations, environmental engineering, occupational health, facility management, logistics and transportation, protective services, emergency management, and subordinate site operations.
Champion has been director of Michoud Assembly Facility since 2019. From 2015-19, he was deputy director of the Propulsion Systems Department at Marshall, and in 2014 he was deputy of the Space Systems Department. Champion was appointed to the Senior Executive Service – the personnel system covering top managerial positions in federal agencies – as Michoud’s deputy director in 2012; he oversaw the facility’s transformation from manufacturing Space Shuttle External Tanks to a multi-tenant facility for the manufacturing and assembly of the Space Launch System core stage and the Orion spacecraft.
From 2000-01, Champion was manager of the Internal Relations and Communications Department. He managed the Auxiliary Propulsion Project for the Next Generation Launch Vehicle Program from 2001-03, then was NASA project manager for the Boeing Orbital Space Plane Project. He was deputy manager, chief engineer, and technical manager in the Propulsion Systems Engineering and Integration Office in the Shuttle Propulsion Office from 2004-07. From 2007-10, he was division chief of the Stage Systems Engineering and Integration Office, responsible for the technical integration of the subsystems that comprised the Ares I Upper Stage. He assumed responsibility at Michoud in 2010 as acting deputy director and chief operating officer.
Champion joined Marshall in 1986 as a propulsion engineer in the Preliminary Design Office. He went on to hold multiple leadership positions, including team lead for the design of the X-34 main propulsion systems from 1994-99 and he led the Vehicle Propulsion Team, where he coordinated system design and analysis support for numerous spacecraft and rocket propulsion projects.
Champion was selected as an American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics Associate fellow and received the organization’s 2018-19 Holger Toftoy Award for outstanding technical management in the fields of aeronautics and astronautics. He has received several of NASA’s highest awards, including the Exceptional Achievement Medal, the Medal for Exceptional Service, Space Flight Awareness Honoree, Director’s Commendation, and the Contracting Officers Technical Representative of the Year.
A native of Woodstock, Alabama, Champion has a bachelor’s in aerospace engineering from Auburn University. Recently married to Maria Shelby, they reside in Hazel Green. Together, they have five adult children and four grandchildren.