2022 Distinguished Engineer – Bridget Ziegelaar ’96 Mechanical Engineering
Bridget Ziegelaar began her career at NASA as a Graduate Student Intern in the Office of External Relations at NASA Headquarters in Washington DC, where she managed several international cooperative agreements for Space Shuttle payloads. After accepting a cooperative education position at the Johnson Space Center (JSC) in Houston, Texas, Ms. Ziegelaar worked in the Mission Operations Directorate International Space Station (ISS) Thermal Systems Group, becoming a full-time NASA employee in 1998. Ms. Ziegelaar worked as a Flight Controller for three years supporting operations in Mission Control for several Space Shuttle missions to the ISS. In 2001 she moved to the Extravehicular Activity (EVA) Office as a Flight Manager, responsible for all aspects of spacewalk integration, including coordination between the Space Shuttle and ISS Programs and operations organizations. Following the Space Shuttle Columbia accident in 2003, Ms. Ziegelaar became the lead EVA Office representative on the team chartered to develop critical repair techniques for the Space Shuttle’s Reinforced Carbon Carbon (RCC) Thermal Protection System. Ms. Ziegelaar continued to manage spacewalks, leading efforts for five additional ISS assembly missions encompassing 15 spacewalks on behalf of the EVA Office. In 2011 Ms. Ziegelaar transitioned to the ISS Program Office where she held various leadership roles, including managing programmatic and technical integration of numerous multi-million dollar scientific and technological payloads for operation on ISS. Ms. Ziegelaar served as the Increment Manager for ISS Expedition 54, managing daily real-time programmatic integration of ISS operations in Mission Control before returning to the ISS Research Integration Office to lead initiatives aimed at the commercialization of Low Earth Orbit, including establishing the agency framework for Private Astronaut Missions to ISS. To ensure the continuous presence of U.S. crew on ISS, Ms. Ziegelaar led the acquisition team to develop and execute an exchange of services contract providing NASA with crew transportation to the ISS on the Soyuz 64S, which launched in April 2021. Currently, Ms. Ziegelaar is serving as the Acting Chief of the Space and Occupational Medicine Branch in the Human Health and Performance Directorate where she leads a high-performing team of more than twenty-five physicians to ensure the successful provisioning of medical capabilities and health care services to the astronaut corps and JSC employees in support of all NASA human spaceflight endeavors.