Hampton Roads native helping NASA return to the moon


Burt Summerfield – (Photo Courtesy – NASA)

PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) — A man who grew up in Chesapeake is helping NASA get back to the moon.

America’s return to the moon will get an assist from local hands. The associate center director for management at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, Burt Summerfield, always wanted to make a difference in the world and now he will.

He is now commanding and executing key center decisions for a multi-user spaceport that employs more than 10,000 people and regularly ranks among the top places to work in the federal government.

Summerfield has spent nearly a decade overseeing the institutional functions at Kennedy.

“I have the great fortune of leading a diverse and talented workforce here,” Summerfield said. “And it’s even more rewarding knowing that everything we do benefits people on Earth. That’s true whether we’re launching a weather satellite, sending the next crew and their research to the International Space Station, or developing new technologies for growing food and exploring the lunar surface.”

Summerfield was born in Portsmouth, Virginia, and grew up in Chesapeake. He attended Old Dominion University in nearby Norfolk, where he received a Bachelor of Science in environmental health.

While working toward his undergraduate degree, he got his first experience working for NASA as an intern at NASA Langley Research Center in Hampton.

At 21, just after graduating from college, Summerfield moved to Florida for a career opportunity at Kennedy.

Summerfield began his career at Kennedy in 1982 as a contractor employee, working in environmental health and promoting a safe and healthy workplace for all employees. Seven years later, he was hired on as a NASA employee and moved into the biomedical office where he focused on pollution control and sanitation.

By 1997, he was selected to help lead that office – a role he maintained until 2009 when, as the associate director of institutional services, he began managing the Florida spaceport’s

“I never imagined working in the space field,” he said. “It wasn’t that I didn’t have an interest in the space program, because I did, but I never thought I would actually end up working in that field.”

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