By Gautham Nagesh - 04/13/11 02:44 PM EDT
The Commercial Spaceflight Federation announced Wednesday that Rear Adm. Craig Steidle (U.S. Navy, Ret.) will take over as president of the trade group May 15.
An aerospace engineer by training, Steidle previously served as NASA's first associate administrator for exploration systems. He will succeed Bretton Alexander, who has led the commercial space group since 2006.
“We could not have found a more qualified candidate to lead the Commercial Spaceflight Federation than Admiral Steidle," said Eric Anderson, chairman of the Commercial Spaceflight Federation.
"He is a true visionary who knows that commercial spaceflight is the key to unlocking humanity’s future in space, and he is a proven manager and engineer who understands what is necessary to make our dream of becoming a true space-faring people a reality.”
The Obama administration has focused on boosting the commercial spaceflight industry at the expense of NASA's human spaceflight program. The space shuttle program will be retired later this year after a final flight, leaving many stakeholders concerned about relying on industry to ferry astronauts to the International Space Station.
"The commercial space industry truly represents the future of America in space, and I’m excited to be a part of it," Steidle said.
"This industry is inspiring kids, keeping America economically competitive, creating thousands of jobs, and ensuring our leadership in space. It is a privilege to lead the Federation as we embark on the grandest adventure of the 21st century: opening up space to everyone.”