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George Abbey, Director of the NASA Johnson Space Center (JSC) in Houston, Texas, 1996-2001, served as an integral part of the NASA Shuttle-Mir Program, providing crucial oversight, management, and guidance the first phase of the International Space Station.
Abbey joined NASA in 1967. His experiences include: Technical Assistant to the manager during the Apollo Program; Technical Assistant to the JSC Director during both the Skylab space station project in 1973 and the Apollo-Soyuz U.S.-Soviet space cooperative venture in 1975; Director of Flight Operations 1976 to 1985; and Director of Flight Crew Operations until 1988, when he became Deputy Associate Administrator for the Office of Space Flight. He became Acting Director of JSC in 1995.
He has also served on important planning and policy boards, including the Synthesis Group, and was Senior Director for Civil Space Policy for the National Space Council, Executive Office of the President.
Prior to his NASA career, Abbey was a pilot and an officer in the United States Air Force. He earned a Bachelor of Science degree from the United States Naval Academy and a Master of Science degree in electrical engineering from the Air Force Institute of Technology.
In his Oral History, colleague Mark Albrecht commented on George Abbey's role in the Shuttle-Mir Program: "George was an absolutely pivotal and crucial influence on this entire process. The Space Council, I would say, prior to George joining us, was in a period of frustration and inability to communicate clearly either way with NASA. I think we had a growing appreciation of where there was not proper functionality in the communication between the White House and NASA, but we didn't know how to fix it. We tried as best we might in various ways.
"I think it was with George's joining the Space Council that we really were able to communicate effectively and to understand how to properly motivate and to understand from NASA's perspective their requirements and practicalities that really allowed this [Phase 1] to move forward," said Albrecht.
On February 23, 2001, NASA Administrator Daniel S. Goldin appointed Abbey to the position of Senior Assistant for International Issues.
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Responsible NASA Official: John Ira Petty