President Bush Taps Tech Alumnus To Lead Moon-Mars Commission

Edward C. "Pete" Aldridge Jr., a 1997 inductee into Georgia Tech's Engineering Hall of Fame, is to lead a new panel that will advise NASA administrators and President George W. Bush regarding future manned missions to the moon and Mars.

Aldridge, who earned his master's degree in aerospace engineering from Georgia Tech in 1962, was chosen this week to direct the Commission on the Implementation of U.S. Space Exploration Policy, a new panel that will advise NASA on the long-term implementation of the president's new vision for space exploration.

President Bush outlined that new vision in a Jan. 14 speech, committing the United States to a long-term human and robotic program to explore the solar system, starting with a return to the moon that will ultimately enable future exploration of Mars and other destinations.

To ensure that NASA maintains a sense of focus and direction toward accomplishing this new mission, the president directed NASA Administrator Sean O'Keefe to review all current space flight and exploration and direct them toward the president's new goals. He also announced his decision to form the Commission on the Implementation of U.S. Space Exploration Policy.

Previously, in March 2001, President Bush appointed Aldridge the under secretary of defense for acquisition, technology and logistics. Before that, Aldridge was chief executive officer of The Aerospace Corporation headquartered in El Segundo, Calif., between March 1992 and May 2001.

Prior to the Challenger disaster in 1986, Aldridge trained to be a payload specialist aboard the Space Shuttle. His mission was canceled, however, and he later was appointed by President Ronald Reagan to be Secretary of the Air Force between 1986 and 1988.

Aldridge has held a variety of positions within the U.S. Department of Defense through the years, retiring in May 2003 but continuing as a special assistant to the Secretary of Defense. He is the recipient of several awards, including the Secretary of Defense Meritorious Civilian Service Award, the Department of Defense Distinguished Civilian Service Award and the Department of Defense Distinguished Public Service Award.

He earned his bachelor's degree from Texas A&M before pursuing his master's degree at Georgia Tech.