NASA names its first female chief flight director

Holly Ridings will lead the group directing human spaceflight operations.

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NASA has named its first female flight director.

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NASA has appointed Holly Ridings as its next chief flight director, marking the first time a woman has held the role.

NASA's Holly Ridings, who will become the agency's first female chief flight director.

Holly Ridings started with NASA in 1998.

Bill Stafford/NASA

Ridings, who's been with NASA since 1998, will take charge of the group directing human spaceflight operations from the Mission Control Center at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston, the space agency said in a release.

The job will see Ridings managing 32 flight directors and trainee flight directors working on missions involving the International Space Station and Orion spacecraft. She replaces Norm Knight, who's been in the the job since 2012 and was promoted to deputy director of flight operations.

"Holly has proven herself a leader among a group of highly talented flight directors," said Brian Kelly, director of flight operations. "She will lead the team during exciting times as they adapt to support future missions with commercial partners and beyond low-Earth orbit."

Watch this: America's first decade in space

A US government agency, NASA has been opening up more to working with private enterprises including Elon Musk's SpaceX and Jeff Bezos' Blue Origin in recent years. In August of this year, it took a big step forward with its planned commercial crew program when it introduced the astronauts who will fly on two new spacecraft, the Starliner and Crew Dragon, which are being developed by aerospace giant Boeing and SpaceX, respectively.

On Oct. 1, NASA will celebrate its 60th anniversary. Its history includes achievements such as the Apollo moon landings, the space shuttle program, a series of Mars rovers and the Hubble space telescope.

On Monday, the agency shared the first images from the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) as it took over the job of planet hunting from the Kepler telescope. It also recently launched a satellite that shoots lasers at the Earth.

NASA didn't immediately respond to a request for further comment on the Ridings appointment.

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