Dr. Janet Kavandi

Senior Vice President Programs
Sierra Nevada Corporation

Dr. Janet L. Kavandi serves as Senior Vice President in the Space Systems Group at Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) in Louisville, Colorado.  There, she is responsible for the company’s space programs, including the Dream Chaser® spaceplane, which is under contract to deliver supplies to the International Space Station beginning in 2021.  Dream Chaser is a winged vehicle and the only resupply vehicle capable of landing on a commercial runway.

Prior to her current position, Dr. Kavandi served as director of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s John H. Glenn Research Center in Cleveland, Ohio. In this position, she was responsible for planning, organizing and directing the activities required for cutting-edge research on aerospace and aeronautical propulsion, power, and communication technologies.  Previous to accepting the director’s position, Dr. Kavandi served as Glenn’s deputy director.

Before her time at Glenn, Dr. Kavandi worked at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas, where she served as the director of Flight Crew Operations. In this role, she was responsible for the Astronaut Corps and aircraft operations at Ellington Field. Dr. Kavandi also served as the deputy director of the Health and Human Performance Directorate, where she ­­­­­­­­­was responsible for the NASA flight surgeons and human research investigations on the International Space Station (ISS). 

Dr. Kavandi was selected as a NASA astronaut in December 1994 as a member of the fifteenth class of U.S. astronauts.  During her time in the Astronaut Office, she supported International Space Station payload integration, capsule communications, robotics and served as deputy chief of the Astronaut Office. She is a veteran of three space flights, serving as a mission specialist on STS-91 in 1998, STS-99 in 2000 and STS-104 in 2001. Dr. Kavandi has logged more than 33 days in space, traveling more than 13.1 million miles in 535 Earth orbits.

Born in Springfield, Missouri, she earned a Bachelor of Science degree in chemistry from Missouri Southern State University in Joplin, a Master of Science degree in chemistry from the Missouri University of Science and Technology in Rolla, and her doctorate in analytical chemistry from the University of Washington in Seattle.

Dr. Kavandi has been recognized with two Presidential Rank Awards, two NASA Outstanding Leadership Medals, two Exceptional Service Medals, three NASA Space Flight Medals, and NASA’s highest award, the Distinguished Service Medal.

Dr. Kavandi and her husband, John, have two adult children.

Related Sessions

International Space Collaboration Luncheon

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

12:15 pm - 1:45 pm

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Panel: Workforce Perspective: A View from Industry Leaders and New Generation Professionals

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

11:00 am - 12:00 pm

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