June 17, 2024

Sciences.  Thomas Zurbuchen is resigning as NASA research director.

Sciences. Thomas Zurbuchen is resigning as NASA research director.

The Swiss head of research at NASA, Thomas Zurbuchen, will resign from his position at the end of the year. (archive photo)

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After more than six years at the helm of the NASA research team, Thomas Zurbuchen of Berne will step down at the end of December this year. Zurbuchen announced this Tuesday evening on Twitter.

He was able to achieve a lot in his job. Zurbuchen continues that it was the most intense time of his life so that he could design the world’s leading space program along with his scientific colleagues.

During his job interview in the fall of 2016, the chief administrator at NASA asked him why he wanted to sit in an ejection seat. If there is a change in NASA’s management, he can be fired.

Zurbuchen replied that he wanted to take the job because it was better to be able to wield influence for a few months than to have no influence at all. He tried to do his best during his tenure as head of the NASA research program.

Best decision for NASA

He’s retiring now for two reasons: He thinks this is the best decision for NASA, but also for him personally. There is no doubt that other great leaders have new ideas to try. You should get a chance.

Everyone has weaknesses that are reflected in the organization of an agency like NASA. These weaknesses can become a burden on the team over time. These changes are mandatory for authorities like NASA, which strive to achieve the highest quality standards.

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On a personal level, he also has the impression that it is time for a change. He wants to gain new skills and gain more leadership experience. As head of research at NASA, he achieved the goals he set for himself.

More time for family and friends

For now, he wants to take a break. Notoriously bad at looking for a job as long as he remains fully focused on his current job. His goal for 2023 is first and foremost to spend time with family and friends.

Born in 1968 in Heiligenschwinde near Thun, Zurbuchen studied physics and mathematics at the University of Bern, then joined the University of Michigan in the USA and NASA in 2016, where he was in charge of more than 100 science missions.