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Stephen F. Cash

Year Inducted: 2024

Stephen F. Cash is nationally recognized as a leader in the technical and programmatic aspects of human spaceflight. He was an integral part of the nation’s most significant space programs, displaying the ability to solve complex problems and involving all team members to reach solutions.

During his more than 30 years at NASA, he applied his engineering expertise to human space flight rated propulsion systems, complex systems integration and technical problem resolution, and the safety and mission assurance of these systems. His tenure included serving at the highest leadership levels at Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC).

Mr. Cash continues his service to the aerospace industry as vice president for advanced space systems with Axient in Huntsville, a full spectrum aerospace and defense company of over 2,000 employees that he joined after retirement from NASA in 2016.

A short time after graduating from The University of Alabama in 1981 with a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering, Cash joined MSFC as an analyst in the Structures and Propulsion Laboratory. After the Space Shuttle Challenger accident in 1986, Cash was assigned to the Solid Rocket Booster Redesign Team. With the successful return to flight for the program in 1988, he became manager of the Advanced Solid Rocket Booster Case Subsystem, contributing significantly to the sustainment and enhancement of human rated solid rocket motor technologies.

After the Space Shuttle Columbia accident in 2003,Cash spent a year at Kennedy Space Center supporting return to flight launch issues. He returned to MSFC where he was named chief engineer for the NASA Engineering and Safety Center, responsible for performing independent and in-depth technical reviews of NASA’s most difficult problems and challenges.

He then took on increasing responsibility in the Space Shuttle Propulsion Office, becoming manager in 2007 as well as deputy program manager for the Space Shuttle Program. He oversaw a combined civil service and contractor workforce of about6,000 team members. In these roles he ensured the successful fly-out of the shuttle in 2011 and led a seamless transition to create the Space Launch System, NASA’s next human-rated deep space heavy lift launch vehicle.

In 2011, Cash was appointed director of the Safety and Mission Assurance Directorate where he was responsible for providing executive guidance, technical resources and oversight necessary to ensure safe and successful execution on missions of national importance including the Space Launch System and International Space Station Payload and Science operations.

In 2022, Cash was bestowed the honor of a Lifetime Achievement Fellow by Axient in recognition of his 35-plus years of outstanding contributions to the advancement of the U.S. civil space programs. While at NASA, he has received many honors, such as the Distinguished Service Medal, Exceptional Leadership Medal, Outstanding Leadership Medal, Exceptional Achievement Medal, the Eagle Manned Mission award for significant contributions to manned space flight, the Meritorious Executive Award, the Silver Snoopy Award, the Director’s Commendation Award and the Holger Toftoy Award for Outstanding Technical Management. He is a recognized member of the Senior Executive Service.