Mark Geyer, 1958–2021

Mark Geyer

Mark Geyer. Credit: NASA.

Mark Stephen Geyer, 63, senior advisor to NASA’s associate administrator and former director of NASA Johnson Space Center (JSC), passed away on December 7, 2021, after an 18-month battle with pancreatic cancer.

Born in Indianapolis, Indiana, Geyer earned both his Bachelor of Science and Master of Science degrees in Aeronautical and Astronautical Engineering from Purdue University. He began his NASA career in 1990 at JSC in the new business directorate. He joined the International Space Station Program in 1994 where he served in a variety of roles until 2005, including chair of the space station Mission Management Team, manager of the ISS Program Integration Office, and NASA lead negotiator with Russia on space station requirements, plans, and strategies.

From 2005 to 2007, Geyer served as deputy program manager of the Constellation Program before transitioning to manager of the Orion Program, a position he held until 2015. Under Geyer’s direction, Orion was successfully tested in space in 2014 for the first time, bringing NASA another step closer to sending astronauts to deep space destinations.

After supporting Orion, Geyer served as deputy center director at NASA Johnson until September 2017. In this role, he helped the center director manage a broad range of human spaceflight activities, including the center’s annual budget of approximately $5.1 billion. From October 2017 to May 2018, Geyer served as the acting deputy associate administrator for the Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters in Washington. In this position, he was responsible for assisting the associate administrator in providing strategic direction for all aspects of NASA’s human spaceflight exploration mission. He then served as the 12th center director at JSC, where he led the agency to places it had not been before and fought for several new initiatives to improve the overall diversity and inclusion in the space industry.

Geyer is the recipient of the NASA Distinguished Service Medal, Meritorious Executive Rank Award, and Distinguished Executive Rank Award.

NASA Administrator Bill Nelson issued the following statement following Geyer’s passing:

“Today, we mourn the loss of a giant for human spaceflight and a beloved member of the NASA family:  former Johnson Space Center Director Mark Geyer.

“Like so many Americans, Mark spent his childhood watching the Gemini and Apollo missions. It inspired him to join NASA. It is difficult to overstate the difference he made. Under Mark’s leadership, Johnson Space Center moved the United States into a new era of human space exploration. In fact, more human spaceflight programs were led from Houston during his tenure than ever before.

“That’s because Mark personified the American character, believing we should constantly venture farther into the cosmos for the benefit of humanity. It’s not an exaggeration to say Mark’s legacy will be realized for generations to come at the agency he loved so dearly. When NASA astronauts return to the Moon under Artemis, and ultimately prepares for human missions to Mars, this new generation of explorers and adventurers will be guided by Mark’s spirit.

“Mark Geyer shaped history. He strengthened this agency and the bonds of our NASA family. We will miss this champion for exploration and forever be grateful for his service.”

— Portions of text courtesy of NASA