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Extended Leave

Today is my first day of extended leave from NASA and it feels great. There have been many good wishes from people and for that I am very fortunate.

The going away party for @schingler and @bobby_braun

Here is the e-mail I sent to the OCT team earlier this week describing my intentions:

Sent: Tuesday, September 20, 2011 4:43 AM
Dear OCT and other colleagues,

Upon looking back at projects I have been affiliated with, there are two necessary attributes that make them successful: (1) a project that will change the world and (2) the right team. For OCT, we started with the vision and support and then built the team. When the FY11 President’s Budget Request came out along with the announcement of OCT, I happened to be at NASA HQ on a three month detail responding on behalf of NASA to President’s Open Government Directive (that too was a fun project!). While I didn’t know or have past experience working with individuals on the OCT formulation team, they were fast, smart, driven and competent. I couldn’t pass it up a project with the two ingredients for success.

Over the past 1.5+ years with the team driving the vision for technology at NASA and building the foundation, we have been extremely successful. I am reminded by some words we would say in formulation, “with a robust space technology program, NASA’s future would no longer be a straight line.” That is also fitting for the formulation and rooting of Space Technology – it wasn’t straight forward nor easy and it did require a number of pivots. But in my opinion, we have been extremely successful and NASA’s technology focus today is on a path to create NASA’s future and change the world. But real change is all about implementation and follow-through, so I look forward to Space Technology’s success in the years to come.

This week is my last week at NASA HQ and I will be returning back to NASA Ames. Subsequently, I will take some vacation and time to explore and create options outside the Agency. It is a bittersweet departure, as I have worked at NASA for 9 of the last 12 years – and the last 6 years in the civil service. Aside from the Open Government and OCT/Space Technology at HQ, the 4+ years at Ames was amazing and chock full of fun/crazy projects working for Pete Worden. We brought a renewed focus to small spacecraft and skunks work development to NASA and for the better part of three years, I helped incubate a mission to find ~5000 planets around the closest and brightest stars, the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) – when it flies, it will be an awesome mission. Pete did provide a meritocratic, entrepreneurial environment for side projects and those are critically and culturally important in changing how we do business and bringing alternative images of the future to light. Some of those projects include the Next Generation Exploration Conference series, International Space University SSP 2009 at Ames, Yuri’s Night celebrations, Singularity University, NASA CoLab and participatory exploration efforts, (yes, outside of official duties), Random Hacks of Kindness (Google, Yahoo, Microsoft, World Bank, NASA partnership), and LAUNCH (USAID, State Department, Nike, NASA partnership) which was a finalist for the Service to America Medal awards last week. We definitely have had a lot of fun!

This will be my third time leaving the agency in my career, so if history is any measure this won’t be my last. ;) While we have some ideas on changing the world, this time I am starting with a team of people I have been collaborating with for over a decade – it is the right team. I cannot tell you how excited I am for this next chapter.

NASA is two years into a shift in how it does business and its role in creating a 21st century aerospace industry. I am confident that what will emerge will reposition NASA at the cutting edge and at the forefront of thought leadership of being a government agency. I see a future where humanity can live and work productively in space and what NASA does over the coming years will help to bring that future within grasp. I feel very proud and fortunate to have worked with the OCT team, and others at NASA, and look forward to your continued success.

With appreciation,

PS. Please join us for a Happy Hour TONIGHT, September 20 from 6:30 onward (5:30 if you are OCT) at the Eighteenth Street Lounge (

Personal e-mail:
Personal phone: (415) 952-3272
Location: with @jessykate doing a PhD at the University of Maryland, I will be bicoastal alternating between DC and Silicon Valley.

Robbie Schingler
Chief of Staff
Office of the Chief Technologist
NASA Headquarters
(650) 815-5208 (m)
(202) 358-1187 (o)
@schingler (t)

Posted in openNASA, Personal.

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One Response

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  1. Jon Verville says

    Thanks for sharing these thoughts Robbie. Sad to see you go, but excited to see what comes out of your “side projects” over the next horizon. Cheers.

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