Former NASA astronaut Christopher J. “C.J.” Loria has been named the newest director of the USGS Earth Resources Observation and Science (EROS) Center in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.
At EROS, Loria will oversee activities involving the largest civilian collection of images of the Earth’s land surface in existence, including tens of millions of satellite images. EROS also operates the Landsat satellite program with NASA, while EROS scientists study land change and produce land change data products used by researchers, resources managers, and policy makers across the nation and around the world.
As the Center Director, Loria will oversee the work of roughly 600 government and contractor employees.
“CJ Loria comes to us with a wealth of experience that will be a great asset to the USGS,” said USGS Director James Reilly. “He has been in the government sector for over 30 years and will be instrumental in leading the team at the EROS Center, which is the first stop for the information that allows us to keep the ‘big picture’ of our planet. I am highly pleased he elected to join us here in the Bureau. He joins a remarkably strong team that will continue in changing the way we see our world.”
Loria came to the USGS EROS Center from NASA’s Stennis Space Center in Mississippi, where he was a Director with Syncom Space Services in charge of $125.1 million worth of work across the NASA Stennis Space Center and NASA Michoud Assembly facility for the NASA Space Launch System (SLS) Program.
In 2013, while a consultant in the Washington, DC, area, he was sought out to be a member of a National Science Foundation’s independent assessment board for its National Ecological Observatory Network in Boulder, Colorado. NEON’s mission is as a continental-scale ecological observation and land use change facility, providing calibrated data products to scientists, academia, researchers, and public policy makers. In 2014 through 2015, Loria served as the Director of Operations for NEON.
The first astronaut selected as a NASA Fellow in 2002, Loria earned a master’s degree in Public Administration from the Harvard Kennedy School in 2004. At the Kennedy School, he was twice selected as a Harvard Fellow, working on clean energy technology and carbon dioxide sequestration.
While with NASA, he served as the first Deputy Chief Engineer with the Constellation Program at NASA Headquarters. He also worked on the Space Shuttle, International Space Station, and Orbital Space Plane programs, earning the NASA Acquisition Improvement Award and the NASA Group Achievement Award.
The new EROS director earned an executive certificate in Business Management and Leadership from MIT’s Sloan School of Management in 2008. He is a Distinguished Hispanic Graduate of the Class of 1983 from the United States Naval Academy.