Press Releases  |  10.20.2015

Boeing’s John Shannon Joins Board of Directors

Lisa Vernal, VP, Communications & Center Relations

John ShannonChallenger Center, a leading STEM education organization, announced the addition of John Shannon, Vice President and Program Manager for Boeing’s Space Launch System (SLS), to the nonprofit’s board of directors.

“John knows firsthand how important exploration and discovery is to the success of our country. That experience and his passion will help us further strengthen our education mission,” said Kent Rominger, chair of the board for Challenger Center. “Boeing has been a longtime partner and supporter of Challenger Center, and we are thrilled to have John represent the organization on our board of directors.”

Shannon leads the Boeing team designing, developing, testing and producing the core stages and avionics for NASA’s new heavy-lift rocket. Prior to this position, Shannon led the International Space Station (ISS) program for Boeing in its key integration role for NASA’s ISS Program. His responsibilities included overall integration and operations of the ISS orbiting laboratory.

“Space exploration inspires our youth to pursue the difficult subjects of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) that are so critical to improving life around the globe,” said Shannon. “The mission of Challenger Center is to engage new generations to reach beyond Earth, while honoring those who have sacrificed their lives in the pursuit of knowledge. I’m proud to be a part of those efforts.”

Before joining Boeing, Shannon served as NASA’s Deputy Associate Administrator for Exploration Planning in the Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate. In this role, Shannon was responsible for working with NASA and the international partners to define future Human Exploration activities for NASA headquarters. In 2008, he was named manager of the Space Shuttle Program, providing executive direction and policy for all aspects of Space Shuttle processing and development, including prelaunch and flight operations of the final 14 Space Shuttle missions.

Shannon began his career on the Space Shuttle Program as a flight operations engineer in 1988. In 1991, he was named the head of the space shuttle guidance, navigation, and flight control section. In 1993, Shannon was selected as flight director for the Space Shuttle Program, the youngest person ever to hold that position. In 2003, he was appointed as the deputy manager of the Columbia Task Force, interfacing daily with the investigative team of the Columbia Accident Investigation Board.

Throughout his career, Shannon has received numerous accolades for his technical and managerial leadership such as the NASA Exceptional Service Medal, the NASA Outstanding Leadership Medal, the NASA Distinguished Service Medal, the NASA Exceptional Achievement Medal, the Presidential Rank Award for Distinguished Executive, and the Astronautics Engineer of the Year award from the National Space Club.

Shannon’s academic achievements include a Bachelor of Science degree in aerospace engineering from Texas A&M University and completion of Harvard Business School’s Program for Management Development.

Shannon is one of several key individuals to recently be elected to the organization’s board of directors. In August, Challenger Center announced the addition of six board members including Lowell Grissom, brother of Apollo 1 Command Pilot Virgil I. “Gus” Grissom; Robert Curbeam, Raytheon Space and Airborne Systems; Leslee Gilbert, Van Scoyoc Associates; Captain Mark Kelly, Navy combat veteran and retired NASA astronaut; Kathie Klein, Buehler Challenger & Science Center; and Carol Vorderman MBE, British TV host, Group Captain RAFVR(T) as Amas Ambassador-Air Cadets and Education Author.

Challenger Center will celebrate its 30th anniversary in 2016 as the organization continues to honor the legacy of the crew of shuttle flight STS-51L lost on January 28, 1986.

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About Challenger Center
As a leader in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education, Challenger Center and its international network of Challenger Learning Centers use space simulations to engage students in dynamic, hands-on opportunities. These experiences strengthen knowledge in STEM subjects and inspire students to pursue careers in these important fields. Centers reach hundreds of thousands of students and tens of thousands of teachers each year. Founded in 1986, Challenger Center was created to honor the crew of shuttle flight STS-51L: Dick Scobee, Gregory Jarvis, Christa McAuliffe, Ronald McNair, Ellison Onizuka, Judith Resnik, and Michael J. Smith. Learn more about Challenger Center at and connect with us on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.