Michoud Leadership

Keith Hefner
Director NASA Michoud Assembly Facility

Keith Hefner Portrait

Keith Hefner is director of the NASA Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans. Named to the position in January  2017, he oversees and manages the multi-tenant manufacturing facility, where development of NASA’s Space Launch System and Orion spacecraft are underway.

Hefner previously served as manager of the Science and Space Technology Projects Office within the Science and Technology Office where he oversaw a portfolio of programs and projects, including an annual budget of approximately $100 million and a combined workforce of over 300 civil service and contractor scientists, engineers and administrative staff. He also had responsibility for the Marshall Center's X-Ray and Cryogenic Facility, currently being used to test major James Webb Space Telescope hardware elements.

Starting in 2002 until his appointment to SLS, Hefner served as the Chandra X-ray Observatory Program manager, responsible for planning, budgeting and managing Chandra operations. From 2006 to 2011, in addition to his Chandra responsibilities, he led the new Space Systems Programs and Projects Office within the Science and Mission Systems Office, overseeing the planning, scheduling resources, support requirements, management systems and concepts required for managing the Chandra Program; as well as the Hinode Project -- an international collaboration with the Japanese Space Agency; the James Webb Telescope test activities; and the Gamma-ray Burst Monitor Project.

In 1986, he was assigned to the Observatory Projects Office, where he specialized in project and resource management with the Chandra and Hubble Space Telescope programs. He served as the Chandra Program Control lead throughout the development phase of the program and into the early operations phase.

Hefner joined NASA in 1985 and was assigned to the Program Development Directorate as a program control engineer trainee. After completing this training program, he was assigned to the Observatory Projects Office where he initially supported the Hubble Space Telescope Program until its launch in 1990.

Hefner has distinguished himself throughout NASA and other federal agencies as a subject-matter expert in financial management and program and project management. He possesses extensive experience developing life cycle cost estimates and detailed phasing plans and has formulated, executed and overseen budgets ranging from small activities to major programs in excess of $3 billion. Hefner routinely provided programmatic advice and guidance and serves as an expert consultant on such projects and programs as Chandra and James Webb Space Telescope.

For his service to the space program, Hefner has received numerous awards, including the NASA Exceptional Service Medal, a Space Flight Awareness Award, the Silver Snoopy Award, multiple Center Director Commendations, and numerous group achievement awards.

A native of Boaz, Ala., Hefner attended Snead State Community College in Boaz and graduated in 1984 from the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa with a bachelor's degree in industrial engineering. He resides in Huntsville.

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Michael Kynard
Deputy Director NASA Michoud Assembly Facility

Mike Kynard PortraitMichael Kynard is deputy director of NASA's Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans. Named to the position in January 2014, he is responsible for the day-to-day management of the multi-tenant manufacturing facility, where development of NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) and Orion spacecraft are under way. SLS is the most powerful rocket in history that will carry astronauts in the Orion crew vehicle, science experiments and cargo on deep-space missions, including an asteroid and Mars.

Michoud, a NASA-owned facility that is managed from the agency's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, is one of the world's largest manufacturing plants. Kynard works to build a broader Michoud facility tenant base with government, university and private-sector entities, and also manages the facility operations contract with Syncom Space Services.

From 2011 to his current position, Kynard was manager of the SLS Engines Office at the Marshall Center. He was responsible for the development, certification and production of all liquid engines to be used in support of the SLS, including development of the four RS-25 core stage engines and J-2X engine under consideration for the upper stage.

From 2006 until 2011, Kynard was manager of the Upper Stage Engine Element for Ares Projects under the Constellation Program at Marshall. He was responsible for the design, development, testing and evaluation of the J-2X engine to be used on the Ares I and Ares V.

From 2005 to 2006, he was manager of the Ares V Core Stage and Core Stage Engine in the Exploration Launch Projects Office. He was responsible for the development of the core stage for the Ares V heavy-lift launch vehicle, including the design, development and upgrade of the RS-68 engine. He also was responsible for the design and development of the core stage tanks and structure.

Kynard served from 2003 to 2005 as deputy manager of Marshall’s Space Shuttle Main Engine Project. He was responsible for assisting the manager in overall project management of the shuttle main engines, including design, production and operation. From 2001-2003, he was the project's systems and requirements team lead and oversaw all technical issues related to shuttle main engine systems requirements. He was an engine systems engineer from 1999 to 2001, working in the same area within the project.

Kynard served as an engineer from 1992 to 1999 in the Propulsion Laboratory in the Engine Systems Branch of the Science and Engineering Directorate at the Marshall Center. He was the lead point-of-contact for all shuttle main engine development activities and also performed systems analysis on the design and testing of the main engines.

From 1989 to 1992, he was the Marshall Center representative at NASA’s Stennis Space Center near Bay St. Louis, Mississippi, where he oversaw the testing of the shuttle main engines.

He worked as an engineer in Marshall’s Information and Electronic Systems Laboratory from 1987 to 1989 at the Marshall Center. His duties included working on the shuttle main engine controller software, which monitors the engine system to ensure proper function.

Kynard was a cooperative student from 1985 to 1987 in the Gamma Ray Observatory at Marshall. He worked with NASA engineers in building the initial brass boards for the Glast Burst Monitor experiment -- a detector aimed at recording high-energy phenomena, such as gamma-ray bursts, in space.

During his NASA career, Kynard has received numerous awards and honors. In 1997, he received a Silver Snoopy Award, given by the Astronaut Corps for outstanding service to the Space Shuttle Program. He received the NASA Outstanding Leadership Medal in 2016 for his leadership and growth of the Michoud Assembly Facility. He was twice honored with a NASA Exceptional Achievement Medal -- in 1992 for his work in testing the shuttle main engines and in 2010 for his leadership in bringing the J-2X development to Critical Design Review. In 1996, he received a Marshall Space Flight Center Director’s Commendation for his work with STS-72 – saving the mission, which launched in 1996 to capture and return to Earth a Japanese microgravity research spacecraft. Kynard also has received several group achievement awards.

He has co-written several American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics papers, and is the author of a systems and engineering paper on space shuttle main engine testing that was published in Aerospace Magazine. 

A native of Moundville, Alabama, Kynard graduated in 1987 with a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa.

Kynard and his daughters, Summer and Acadia, reside in Madison, Alabama.

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Malcolm Wood
Deputy Chief Operating Officer NASA Michoud Assembly Facility

Malcolm W. Wood is the deputy chief operating officer of NASA's Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans. Named to the position in 2007, he manages the day-to-day operations of NASA's only manufacturing facility. Sitting on 832 acres, Michoud is a multi-tenant manufacturing facility, where development of NASA's Space Launch System (SLS) and Orion spacecraft are underway. SLS, the world’s most powerful rocket will carry astronauts in the Orion crew vehicle, science experiments and cargo on deep-space missions, including journeys to Mars.

Michoud played an historic role in producing the Apollo Program Saturn V first stage booster that launched U.S. astronauts to the moon and the Space Shuttle Program external fuel tanks that helped power the shuttles toward orbit for over 30 years. Today, Michoud is a diverse, state-of-the-art facility, housing NASA future program development, the U.S. Department of Agriculture National Finance Center, U.S. Coast Guard Base New Orleans and several commercial endeavors.

Prior to his arrival with NASA, Wood was director of Lockheed Martin's Facility Operations group at Michoud. For 27 years, he led the efforts to operate the Michoud infrastructure, responsible for 400 engineers, administrative and craft persons to manage, maintain and operate the facility.

During his career Wood has received numerous awards and honors. In 2005, he received the NASA Bravery Medal for his outstanding leadership during the recovery efforts at Michoud following Hurricane Katrina. He received the prestigious NASA Silver Snoopy in 1987, for outstanding work on the Space Shuttle External Tank Project. He is a U.S. Navy veteran serving aboard the destroyer Forrest Royal and the aircraft carrier Franklin Roosevelt.

A native of Mississippi, Wood received a bachelor's degree in Computer Engineering Technology from Southern Mississippi University.

He and his wife, the former Mary Dyle of Pearl River County, Mississippi, reside in Picayune, Mississippi and have three grown children, sons Matthew and Christopher, and a daughter Kristen.