Space Shuttle Launch Director Mike Leinbach is leaving NASA after being with the Agency for 27 years. He is having his last day on Wednesday, November 30.
Leinbach had joined NASA in 1984 as a structural engineer and served as lead design engineer for many projects concerned with Launch Pad Systems including the Weather Protection System and several Emergency Systems. In 1988, he became a NASA Test Director for the Shuttle Program directing all operations at the Launch Complex. Leinbach served as Shuttle Test Director for 17 launches. From 1998 to 2000, he was involved in International Space Station Hardware Processing as part of the Space Station Hardware Integration Office. Later in 2000, Mike Leinbach became an Assistant Launch Director and was named Launch Director shortly thereafter. He was responsible for many Shuttle Countdowns amd Launches giving the final GO before a crew left the Planet. After the Columbia Accident in February 2003, Leinbach led the initial recovery effort in the Texas/Louisiana Area. He then became the leader of the Columbia Reconstruction Team guiding the Agency through its hardest time in the new millenium and finding the cause of the disaster. He was essential in the Return to Flight Effort to keep the Shuttles flying and finish the assembly of the ISS. After 2006, he served as launch director for many Shuttle flights and also directed the final Countdown for Space Shuttle Atlantis in 2011 – wishing the crew ‘Good Luck, Goodspeed and have a little fun up there’ as he did every time a crew was about to blast into space.
Leinbach will join a major aerospace company in Florida.
Earlier this year, fellow Launch Team Member and Launch Integration Manager for Space Shuttle Operations, Mike Moses, had left NASA. He also transitioned to the private sector.