NASA has named Dr. Makenzie Lystrup as the new director of Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland. She will be the first female center director at Goddard and takes over from Dave Mitchell who has been serving as the acting center director since January 2023. Lystrup was previously the vice president and general manager of civil space at Ball Aerospace where she led several missions for NASA. She has also served as senior director for Civil Space Advanced Systems and Business Development at Ball. Goddard Space Flight Center is one of NASA’s largest field centers with a $4 billion portfolio and more than 10,000 employees.
NASA Administrator Bill Nelson has named Dr. Makenzie Lystrup director of the agency’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland, effective immediately. She will make history as the first female center director at Goddard.
Lystrup succeeds Dave Mitchell, who has served as Goddard’s acting center director since January 2023, and now resumes his duties as the agency’s chief program management officer at NASA Headquarters in Washington.
“Makenzie is a natural leader, bringing to Goddard a scientist’s drive for discovery along with a wealth of industry experience and knowledge. As center director, she will lead a world-renowned team of scientists, engineers, and technologists focused on Earth and space science. Under her leadership, the Goddard workforce will continue to inspire, innovate, and explore the unknown for the benefit of all,” said Nelson. “I’d also like to thank Dave Mitchell for serving as acting center director since January and ensuring a seamless transition. We look forward to Dave resuming his role at headquarters.”
Goddard Space Flight Center is one of NASA’s largest field centers. Its sites include the primary campus in Greenbelt, Maryland, as well as Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia, the Katherine Johnson Independent Verification & Validation Facility in West Virginia, the Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York, the White Sands Complex in New Mexico, and the Columbia Scientific Balloon Facility in Texas. Goddard is responsible for the oversight and execution of a $4 billion portfolio and is home to the nation’s largest concentration of scientists, engineers, and technologists dedicated to Earth and space science. Its workforce consists of more than 10,000 employees, both civil servants and contractors.
“Goddard is an incredible center and true national asset with the best and brightest minds in science and engineering – I’m humbled and honored to lead such an amazing and diverse world-renowned team,” said Lystrup. “To build upon our legacy, I’m keenly focused on growing the next generation of innovators along with ensuring our team has the resources and tools to advance technologies and make new discoveries that boost the space economy and benefit us all.”
Prior to joining NASA, Lystrup was vice president and general manager of civil space at Ball Aerospace, where she was responsible for the company’s portfolio of civil space systems that span across all science fields, operational weather and Earth observation, as well as advanced technologies development objectives. In this role, she led Ball’s contributions to several missions, such as NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope, Imaging X-ray Polarimetry Explorer (IXPE), Landsat 9, and the Roman Space Telescope.
Lystrup has also served as senior director for Ball’s Civil Space Advanced Systems and Business Development, where she managed new business activities for NASA, NOAA, and other civilian U.S. government agencies as well as for academia and other science organizations.