Former NASA Acting Administrator Steve Jurczyk passed away Nov. 23, at the age of 61, following a battle with pancreatic cancer.
During his career, which spanned more than three decades with the agency, Jurczyk rose in ranks to associate administrator, the highest-ranking civil servant, a position he held from May 2018 until January 2021. He ultimately went on to serve as acting administrator between administration changes, serving in that position from January 2021 until his retirement in May 2021.
“Steve dedicated his life to solving some of the most daring spaceflight challenges and propelling humanity’s reach throughout the solar system. The world lost Steve too soon, but his legacy of kindness and exceptional leadership lives on. My thoughts are with his family and loved ones during this difficult time,” said NASA Administrator Bill Nelson.
Preceding his roles as acting administrator and associate administrator, Jurczyk served as the associate administrator for the Space Technology Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters in Washington, a position he had held since June 2015. He was responsible for formulating and executing the agency’s space technology portfolio, focusing on the development and demonstration of new technologies supporting human and robotic exploration within the agency, public/private partnerships, and academia.
Jurczyk joined the leadership team at headquarters after serving as director of NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia. He was named to that position in May 2014. He previously served as deputy center director from August 2006 until his appointment as director.
His NASA career began in 1988, serving as a design, integration, and test engineer in the Electronic Systems Branch at NASA Langley. There he worked on developing several space-based Earth remote sensing systems. He served in a variety of other roles at Langley including director of engineering, and director of research and technology.
At the time of his retirement, Jurczyk shared the following:
“It has been an honor to lead NASA and see the agency’s incredible growth and transformation throughout my time here. The NASA workforce is what makes this agency so special, and I’m incredibly grateful for their amazing work, especially throughout the coronavirus pandemic. At NASA, we turn dreams into reality, and make the seemingly impossible possible. I am so fortunate to have been a member of the NASA family.”
Among his awards, Jurczyk received a Distinguished Service Medal, Presidential Rank Award for Distinguished Executive, Presidential Rank Award for Meritorious Executive, Silver Achievement Medal, Outstanding Leadership Medal, and numerous Group
Achievement Awards. He also was a finalist for Sammie management excellence award for his leadership in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Jurczyk is a graduate of the University of Virginia where he earned a Bachelor of Science and Master of Science degrees in electrical engineering in 1984 and 1986. He also was an associate fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics.
An obituary for Steve Jurczyk is online. For more information about his NASA career, visit:
First published at NASA.gov