Dr. David S. Leckrone - Doctor of Science

May 2013  

David S. Leckrone

David S. Leckrone
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Dr. David S. Leckrone worked as an astrophysicist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center for 40 years. For more than three decades, beginning in 1976, he served in various scientific leadership roles on the Hubble Space Telescope (HST) Project. 

From 1992 to 2009, Leckrone held the position of Hubble’s senior project scientist. He provided scientific leadership for all aspects of the Hubble program, including program management, spacecraft and science operations, development of new scientific instruments and in-orbit servicing. Leckrone also had overall project responsibility to assure that the scientific performance requirements for the Hubble observatory were achieved and that the HST observatory remained scientifically productive and successful over its long lifetime. Leckrone was the lead scientist for five highly successful Space Shuttle servicing missions to Hubble. 

Concurrently with his Hubble duties, he held the position of head of the Astronomy Branch in the Laboratory for Astronomy and Solar Physics at Goddard from 1981 to 1991. From 2003 to 2006, he was the chief scientist for the newly formed NASA Engineering and Safety Center, which was organized in response to the loss of Shuttle Columbia.  

Leckrone is an internationally recognized and widely published authority on ultraviolet astronomy, spectroscopic analysis of stellar atmospheres, and the abundances of the chemical elements in both normal and chemically peculiar stars. In addition, he is in demand as a public speaker, writer and commentator on the topics of science, Hubble and the space program. 

Leckrone earned a bachelor’s degree with honors in physics from Purdue in 1964 and a PhD in astronomy from UCLA in 1969. He holds an MAS in Management degree from Johns Hopkins University, awarded in 1987. In 1996, he received an honorary doctorate in natural sciences from the University of Lund in Sweden. 

In January 2012, the American Astronomical Society awarded Leckrone the George Van Biesbroeck Prize in recognition of “long-term and unselfish service to astronomy.” In 2009, he received the NASA Distinguished Service Medal, the highest honor the agency bestows on a civil servant. He was a recipient of the U.S. Presidential Rank Award of Merit in 2008. 

Leckrone retired from NASA in 2009. He currently is an emeritus senior scientist at the Goddard Space Flight Center. He and his wife, Marlene, reside in Silver Spring, Maryland. He has a son, daughter and two grandchildren.

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