When NASA Marshal's director of the Marshall Space Flight Center asked which of her managers might be interested in a great deal of returning America to the moon, Lisa Watson-Morgan said she had a tour of her office there.
Watson-Morgan's father was a graphic illustrator in Marshall in the 1960s, when Wernher von Braun ruled the center and her father's illustrations hung on the walls of her office today. One of these illustrations was a crew module.
"It just seemed like a natural fit and a great opportunity," Watson-Morgan says Friday, after NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstein introduced her as the leader of a team that will build farmers to put astronauts on the moon in 2024.
The countrymen are a bit of a missing link in the Trump administration's vision of returning to the moon quickly. NASA is working on a missile system capable of reaching both the moon and Mars, but farmers also had to move.
NASA officials are working on some of the problems. They are now a 360 member formal team and have a leader in Watson-Morgan.
If she felt the pressure of the work and the spotlight, Watson-Morgan did not show it on Marshall Friday when it was featured on NASA-TV. She smiled big as she squeezed Bridenstein's hand as she headed for the podium.
She has the qualification to feel confident. Watson-Morgan is a 30-year NASA veteran who earned a bachelor's degree in industrial engineering from the University of Alabama in 1
She received NASA best honors, including the 2018 Distinguished Presidential Award, the Distinguished Service Medal in 2010, and the 2001 Distinguished Service Medal.
She and her husband have three children and they live in Huntsville, which is her hometown. US Ambassador Mo Brooks, R-Huntsville, noted on Friday praising her appointment.
"It is poetic that the birthplace of America's space program is also the birthplace of the project leader who will lead these efforts. "He says I said. "She was born in our community and went to Butler High School.
"She is fully capable of taking on this project," Brooks says.
NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstein agreed. Watson-Morgan "rose through the ranks" and "has a lot of confidence in NASA's highest ranking people," he said. "We are very proud of her and the great work she does."
This opinion is widespread. Eric Berger, a respected aerospace writer for the website ars technica broke the news that Marshall had landed the landing program and Watson-Morgan would direct it. He called her a "senior engineer at the center, who according to Texas and Alabama sources has an excellent reputation and is considered a good manager. "
In her new job, Watson-Morgan will manage people working at several NASA centers for work, which she called Friday" a ferry system to take crew back and forth. "
But her team will also test new technologies such as automated landing and navigation leader (laser distance measurement). Astronauts will need those tools on Mars where they cannot go home quickly if there is a problem.
There are many things to do and not much time to do, but Watson-Morgan was excited about his mission. "We're landing in a completely different place, and it's really crucial," she said. "The angles of the sun are completely different, so the landing will be completely different."
She rejected the argument "made there" for the lunar mission with the wit and logic with which it became known. "It's like saying I was in the Plains, so I don't have to go to the Grand Canyon," she says.
Watson-Morgan wants her team to "merge industry speed with NASA's safety expertise to buy risk. "Government workers will also keep a" vision in the eyes of Mars as well as the future "while the rest of the team" try to sprint to the moon. "
Nor is she concerned about the competition between Marshall and the Houston Space Flight Center in Houston for the lead role. She stressed that Johnson had a leading role in taking the astronauts off the moon when their mission was accomplished.
"I have many friends at the Johnson Space Center," she says.