By Linda Cicoira — William “Bill” Wrobel, director of NASA Wallops Flight Facility, is leaving the Eastern Shore for a new job in Washington, D.C., a spokesperson for NASA confirmed this week.
A source close to the move told the Eastern Shore Post that the new job is a demotion and was based on Wrobel’s opposition to budget cuts several months ago. Wrobel was not available for comment.
“Wrobel is serving on a detail with the Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters in Washington, D.C.,” Jeremy Eggers, head of the NASA Wallops Office Communications, said Monday.
“Dave Pierce has been named acting director of (the) Wallops Flight Facility,” Eggers said. “Dave has previously served as the Wallops deputy director and in management and engineering positions in our Balloon and Aircraft offices.”
Peter Bale of the Wallops Island Regional Alliance (WIRA) said Wednesday, “It’s very tight lipped. I haven’t been able to find out anything really either. I heard about the movement. WIRA we will not get involved in any” NASA personnel issues. “We hope his replacement has the same vision and drive to place NASA ahead. We are thankful for Bill’s service and support across the three states (Delmarva) to where NASA Wallops is today. We wish him the best at headquarters in his new capability. We look forward to working with the new NASA leadership to build on this journey.”
Wrobel took the local post in 2010 when he was also named “director of the center’s Suborbital and Special Orbital Projects Directorate. This directorate manages the agency’s sounding rockets and scientific balloon programs,” according to NASA’s website. Before that, he was the assistant associate administrator for launch services at NASA Headquarters.
“Bill is a natural fit as Wallop’s director,” NASA administrator Charles Bolden said in 2010. “His background, experience, and knowledge about NASA’s various suborbital and orbital programs will benefit the agency and our many research partners who count on Wallops for support.”
Wrobel has a bachelor’s degree in aeronautics and astronautics from the Ohio State University. He went to work for McDonnell Douglas on the Delta Launch Vehicle Program and worked in a variety of spacecraft programs before joining Orbital Sciences Corporation in 1990. In 1999, he was named the program director for Orbital’s Taurus Launch Vehicle Program. He also supported the company’s Advanced Programs Group, providing satellite development support for Department of Defense customers.