Schaumburg native is leading U.S. back to the moon

  • Catherine Koerner, daughter of former Schaumburg mayor Al Larson, has been named manager of NASA's Orion program, aimed at putting astronauts back on the moon by 2024.

    Catherine Koerner, daughter of former Schaumburg mayor Al Larson, has been named manager of NASA's Orion program, aimed at putting astronauts back on the moon by 2024. Courtesy of NASA

 
 
Posted9/16/2020 1:30 PM

Catherine Koerner, daughter of former Schaumburg mayor Al Larson, has become manager of NASA's Orion Program, making her responsible for the development and operations of the agency's newest spacecraft carrying astronauts on the Artemis missions to and from the moon.

"I'm honored to be selected as the Orion Program manager," Koerner said in a written statement. "Orion is a key element of the agency's Artemis infrastructure, and I look forward to leading the team responsible for developing and building America's deep space human spacecraft. Next year we'll be launching the Artemis I test flight -- a major milestone -- and the first of the Artemis mission series on our way to putting the first woman and the next man on the moon."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Koerner is based at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston, where she recently led the Human Health and Performance Directorate team working to optimize astronaut performance and reduce health risks associated with spaceflight.

She previously served as flight director, space shuttle manager for the missions operations directorate, deputy manager of the vehicle office and manager of the transportation integration office for the International Space Station program.

"Cathy brings 30 years of human spaceflight experience to the challenging task of managing the Orion program," said Johnson Center Director Mark Geyer. "I am confident she will lead Orion into flight and into a sustainable future."

Koerner earned bachelor's and master's degrees in aeronautical and astronautical engineering from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She has earned multiple awards and commendations over her career, including the NASA Outstanding Leadership Medal, NASA Exceptional Service Medal, JSC Superior Achievement Award and the JSC Director's Commendation Award.

Artemis I will be the first flight test of Orion next year. Artemis II will be the first human mission, taking astronauts farther into space than ever. And on Artemis III, astronauts will land on the moon by 2024, NASA officials said.

For more information about the Orion program, visit nasa.gov/orion.

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