Todd May – the well-regarded “midwife” of SLS – is to retire from NASA

by | Jun 12, 2018 | NASA, SLS, Technology

Napoleon once said that he did not care if his generals were any good, but rather, whether they were lucky. Todd May, was, and is, both.  The very well regarded current director of the NASA Marshall Space Center, and “midwife” of the SLS Heavy Lift launch vehicle (HLV), has announced his retirement which will happen at the end of July.

Todd May. Courtesy: NASA

As the SLS programme manager, May presided over the successful initial design and development of NASA’s SLS HLV, including steering it safely through its critical design review (CDR), silencing many of its detractors as he did so. Of course, by being successful, May, a materials scientist by training, was subsequently promoted to Director of NASA’s Marshall Space Center, NASA’s main launch vehicle development centre located in Huntsville, Alabama.  Nevertheless, even as he got promoted, May kept his southern charm and common touch.

May appeared to have taken his luck with him as SLS then appeared to hit some turbulence after he left the project. This included the discovery of twisted a launch tower, suspect SLS software and damage to a tank welding machine. Nevertheless, the SLS Block I rocket continues to progress and is now certain to fly.

For while NASA might have been wiser to choose the simpler shuttle-based Sidemount design over the SLS, and although later SLS variants may now be usurped by newer larger commercial HLVs the SpaceX BFR and the Blue Origin New Armstrong, nevertheless, whether an interim HLV or not, SLS is still likely to be the rocket that returns NASA astronauts to the Moon.

As such, while there were several thousand of other guys and girls involved in the design and development of the SLS, NASA still has a lot to be thankful for to one that made the birth of SLS happen – its principle midwife (colloquially known as a “Doula” in the Alabama neck of the woods): Todd May.

We at the Seradata space team wish Todd and his family a very happy retirement.

About Seradata

Seradata produce the renowned Seradata database. Trusted by over 100 of the world’s leading Space organisations, Seradata is a fully queryable database used for market analysis, failure/risk assessment, spectrum analysis and space situational awareness (SSA).

For more information go to

Related Articles

Fleet Space raises US$33 million for satellite enabled mineral exploration

Australian newspace company Fleet Space Technologies has secured AUS $50 million (US $33 million) in a Series C fundraising round Read more

Another TROPICS satellite pair is launched by Electron for NASA from Mahia, New Zealand

At 0346 GMT on 26 May a Rocket Lab Electron KS rocket launched itself on a mission for NASA from Read more

Blue Origin gets NASA’s vote for second cryogenic lunar lander which will be under much less time pressure than SpaceX

Having lost out in the competition to produce NASA’s initial lunar lander for its Human Landing System (HLS), Blue Origin’s Read more

Thales Alenia Space wins US$256 million Italian contract for servicing demo mission

Thales Alenia Space has secured a US$256 million (€235m) contract from the Italian Space Agency (ASI) to develop a dedicated Read more

JUICE finally manages to get its radar antenna out but there is no joy for hobbled Lunar Flashlight

ESA’s JUICE (JUpiter ICy-moon Explorer) mission, built by Airbus, which is planned to make detailed observations of Jupiter and its Read more

China’s mini-Shuttle lands after its second flight

After spending 276 days in orbit, China’s unmanned mini-shuttle/spaceplane, dubbed the CSSHQ 1, landed on 8 May following its second Read more

NASA’s TROPICS pair of satellites are successfully launched by Rocket Lab Electron

NASAs TROPICS 5 and TROPICS 6, having originally been planned to be launched on a completely different rocket (the launch Read more

UAE astronaut joins NASA one to do EVA spacewalk from ISS

NASA astronaut Steve Bowen was joined by  UAE (United Arab Emirates) astronaut Sultan Al Neyadi for an Extra Vehicular Activity Read more




nasaspacexecoreviewsissesaArianespacevideochina25virgin galacticfalcon 9ULARoscosmosFalcon 9v1.2FT Block 5DGAevaaviation weekspacewalkaressoyuzIGTBeidouawardsInternational Space StationspaceBlue OriginSatellite broadcastingrussiamoonStarlinkCargo Return VehicleRocket LabresearchboeingmarsblogAirbus DSOneWeborionISROspaceshiptwoimpacthyperboladelayjaxamarsdemocratgoogle lunar prizerocketlunarhypertextobamaEutelsatlaunchVegatourismconstellationbarack obamafiguresSESnorthspaceflightthales alenia spacenode 2fundedRaymond LygoIntelsat2009romeAtlas VExpress MD-2dassault aviationss2Elon MuskLockheed MartinaviationLucy2008wk2sstlukradiotestmissilesuborbitaldocking portexplorationVirgin OrbitinternetAriane 5 ECAChina Manned Space EngineeringSLSsts-122missile defensenewspapercotsgalileospace tourismflight2010Ariane 5Express AMU 1spaceportbuildspace stationaltairNorthrop GrummanElectronshuttleProton Minternational astronautical congressscaled compositesIntelsat 23CosmosLauncherOneEuropean Space Agencyhanleybudgetrulesnew yorksoyuz 2-1aLong March 4CLong March 2D/2Ariane 6shenzhouatvspace shuttleVietnamcongressMojaveboldenInmarsatOrbital ATKnew shepardLong March 2CGuiana Space CenteriaccnesksclawsSpace Systems/LoralUK Space AgencyLong March 4BprotonUS Air ForceILSApollodarpaTalulah RileydragonastronautusabasepicturelanderAstriumSkyloneuSSLVega Clunar landerfiveeventfalconSea LaunchWednesdayinterview50thSNCAprilKuaizhou 1ASpace InsuranceTelesat7linkatlantisLong MarchcustomersuccessorFalcon 9v1.2 Block 5