NASA Dryden F/A-18 #846 (161355) flown by
research pilot Frank Batteas with Dryden's
center director Kevin Petersen in the rear
seat, is shadowed by by Maj. Gen. David
Eichhorn, commander of the AFTTC in F-16C
Photo: NASA / Jim Ross
4/3/2009 - EDWARDS AFB, CA – Kevin L. Petersen,
director of NASA’s Dryden Flight Research Center,
retired from NASA, effective April 3. A veteran
aerospace engineer and manager with 38 years
experience at NASA Dryden, Petersen has served as the
center’s director for more than 10 years and is the
longest-serving field center director currently at
Dryden's deputy center director, David D. McBride,
has been named acting director.
"Kevin's service to NASA exemplifies what's great
about the people who make up America's space program
-- he's served with distinction and helped lead the
agency aeronautics efforts into the 21st century,"
said NASA Acting Administrator Chris Scolese. "I've
asked David McBride to serve as acting Dryden
director. I'm confident David will help keep Dryden in
the forefront of aeronautics research during this
period of transition."
During Petersen's tenure as center director, NASA
Dryden has been transformed from a field center
primarily focused on aeronautics research and support
for the space shuttle program to its present state
with major projects supporting all four of NASA’s
mission disciplines – environmental and space science,
space exploration, human spaceflight and aeronautics.
During the last decade, Dryden has accomplished many
flight-research "firsts," including the flight of the
Helios solar-electric aircraft to a world record
96,863 feet altitude, the flight of the X-43A
integrated scramjet vehicle to a speed of Mach 10, and
the demonstration of fully autonomous in-flight aerial
"It’s hard to imagine a career with more excitement
and opportunity," said Petersen. "Dryden is a unique
place with unmatched talents and capabilities. It has
been a privilege and an honor to have played a small
role in Dryden's historic accomplishments."
Kevin Petersen (left), NASA Dryden Flight
Research Center director, is congratulated by
Maj. Gen. David Eichhorn, AFFTC commander,
following Mr. Petersen's last flight as NASA
Dryden director. 4/2/09
Photo: NASA / Tom Tschida
Petersen began his career at NASA Dryden as a
university cooperative student in 1971 and was hired
as an aerospace engineer upon graduation in 1974.
Early in his career at Dryden, Petersen worked as a
research engineer on the three-eighths-scale F-15
Remotely Piloted Research Vehicle, the F 8 Digital Fly
By Wire and the Highly Maneuverable Aircraft
He later served in multiple supervisory and
management positions at Dryden within the Research
Engineering Division. He provided multidisciplinary
support to a variety of research programs in flight
dynamics and controls, structural dynamics, and flight
systems. Programs he supported included the F-18 High
Angle of Attack Research Vehicle and the X 29 Forward
Swept Wing technology demonstrator aircraft, for which
he was chief engineer.
Petersen headed the center's National AeroSpace Plane
project office from February 1992 through November
1993. He was then selected to be the center's acting
deputy director and was appointed Dryden's deputy
director January 1996. Upon the retirement of former
center director Ken Szalai, Petersen was named the
center’s director on Feb. 9, 1999.
Petersen was awarded NASA's Exceptional Achievement
Medal in 2004 for his contributions to the agency. He
also has been the recipient of NASA's Exceptional
Engineering Achievement Medal, NASA's Exceptional
Service Medal, NASA’s Outstanding Leadership Medal and
NASA’s Equal Employment Opportunity Medal.
Petersen holds both bachelor’s and master’s degrees
in aerospace engineering. He is a fellow of the
American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics.
Source: NASA Dryden Press Release