NASA’s newest program manager for the Human Landing System, which will safely take the first woman and next man to the Moon in 2024, has been announced and it is non-other than Dr. Lisa Watson-Morgan. She is an aerospace engineer and manager at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama as well as a UAH Industrial and Systems Engineering and Engineering Management Alum.

She graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Industrial Engineering from The University of Alabama in 1991 and received both a master’s degree in Industrial and System Engineering in 1994 and a doctorate in Engineering Management in 2008 from The University of Alabama in Huntsville. She has over 30 years’ experience as a NASA veteran engineer and manager. She also served as deputy director of the Engineering Directorate at the NASA Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, AL.

Her career with NASA started in 1989, and in 2013 she was appointed to the Senior Executive Service, She started her career with NASA in 1989, and advanced her positions throughout the years. In 2013 Dr. Watson-Morgan was appointed to Senior Executive Service, where she served in many positions. She started as the manager of the Marshall’s Chief Engineer’s office, then became the director of the Spacecraft and Vehicle Systems Department. She advanced to the position of associate director of operations for the Engineering Directorate, and she most recently served as the deputy director of the Senior Executive Service.

Dr. Lisa Watson-Morgan has also received copious honors and NASA awards, including the Exceptional Service Medal in 2001, the Exceptional Achievement Medal in 2010 and the Meritorious Presidential Rank Award in 2018.

The voyage of NASA’s Human Landing System is an important milestone in NASA’s new Artemis Program and is the building block for long-term human activity on the Moon by 2028. This will light the fire again for a crewed exploration of our solar system as well as taking a great step towards humans exploring Mars.

Watson-Morgan, as a program manager, will take leadership of testing the landing systems while developing, integrating and conducting crewed demonstrations with the collaborations of U.S. industry. She will also manage the ‘lunar landing system integration with the Orion deep-space crew vehicle’, which was launched by the Space Launch System, this will carry the Artemis crew to and from the Gateway lunar orbital platform. From there, the crew will then board the lunar landing system for their mission to the surface of the Moon.

She will be leading a formal team of 360 members. The team will be testing new technologies including automated landing and navigation lidar (laser distance measuring)> Watson-Morgan is excited and confident with her new role and the mission, she said, “We’re landing in a totally different place, and that’s really crucial. The sun angles are totally different, so the landing is going to be totally different.” When faced with the argument, “been there-done that”, she replied with logic and wit, “That’s like saying I’ve been to the Plains, so I don’t need to go to the Grand Canyon.”

She has plenty of support and received many recognitions after being named program manager. U.S. Rep. Mo Brooks, R-Huntsville, praised her appointment, he said, “It’s poetic that the birthplace of America’s space program is also the birthplace of the project manager who is going to lead this effort. She is fully capable of taking on this project.”

NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine agreed with Brooks and said Watson-Morgan has “risen through the ranks” and “has a lot of credibility with the highest people at NASA,” he said. “We’re very proud of her and the great work she does.”

“Lisa’s appointment to this key role not only reflects NASA’s confidence in her visionary leadership but confidence in the proven expertise and world-class capability that define Marshall’s contributions to safely landing humans on the Moon and launching complex spacecraft to the Moon and Mars,” said Jody Singer, Marshall Director.

‘The goal is to deliver a landing system to sustainably ferry astronauts and technology demonstrators to and from the surface, yielding new science and material resources – and leveraging the Moon as a proving ground for future Mars missions.’