New space center director personifies NASA values
Safety, integrity, teamwork, excellence and inclusion.
These are the core values of National Aeronautics and Space Administration, where work is more than just a profession. It’s a lifelong pursuit.
No person embodies these values more than our cover subject, Janet Petro, who grew up in Satellite Beach and went on to serve an appointment to the Military Academy at West Point, where she embraced the values of “Duty, honor, country.”
Growing up as the daughter of a NASA engineer, Petro heads the John F. Kennedy Space Center. She is running it while it is experiencing its largest expansion in missions since the shuttle program ended in 2011. On NASA’s agenda: Sending humans back to the moon by 2024 and eventually to Mars.
Before becoming director of the Kennedy Space Center, she had served as its deputy director for 14 years, helping to expand the center’s mission to handle both government and a variety of commercial users.
In an interview with Space Coast Living writer Lucinda Coulter that begins on Page 16, Petro marvels at where her career has taken her and the excitement of commanding the space center and its 7,300 civil and contract employees.
“What I love about the job is that there’s always something really significant and impactful going on,” she tells Coulter.
The center’s ambitious programs and accommodation of commercial users has had a profound impact on Brevard County’s economy where companies such as Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Blue Origin and WebOne Satellites manufacture components for space.
Petro has come full circle in Brevard, from her days at Surfside Elementary, DeLaura Middle and later Satellite High schools to the directorship of the world’s leading space center. Brevard has been the beneficiary in cultivating this outstanding homegrown hero.