(WAFF) - Robert Lightfoot has announced his retirement as NASA's acting administrator.
Lightfoot holds the highest civilian post in NASA. He took office on Jan. 20, 2017, the same day as President Donald Trump.
Lightfoot is the longest-serving acting administrator, as he ascended to the position as NASA's highest-ranked civil servant.
Before taking over as acting administrator, he was NASA's associate administrator. Before that, he was the director of Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville.
Lightfoot started at NASA in 1989. He moved up the ranks at Marshall and NASA and served as manager of the space shuttle propulsion office in Huntsville.
Lightfoot served as deputy director of MSFC from 2007 to 2009 before taking over as director.
He became NASA's associate administrator in 2012.
Here is Lightfoot's retirement letter.
"Robert is a tireless public servant who has kept a steady hand on the helm over the last year. He holds a very special place in our hearts at Marshall Space Flight Center and we wish him all the best in his retirement," said Todd May, director of Marshall Space Flight Center.
The NASA administrator is a political appointee.
Steve Jurczyk is currently NASA's acting associate administrator, which is third in command, and would take over the top post if an administrator is not voted on in Congress.
Rep. Jim Bridenstine is Trump's nominee to take the helm at the space agency. The president nominated the Oklahoma Republican in 2017, but he was not confirmed. Trump resubmitted Bridenstine for the position again in 2018. While his nomination has advanced in that legislative body, Bridenstine has not been voted on by the full Senate for the position of NASA administrator.
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