Garry M. Lyles
Top Expert in Space Propulsion and Systems Engineering
Inducted in 2012
With more than 35 years technical experience in space propulsion and systems engineering, Garry M. Lyles is considered a top expert. He was called upon by NASA on numerous occasions to lead organizations through dramatic change because he demonstrated the ability to provide a clear course and focus on the desired end results. As the engineering associate director for technical management at Marshall Space Flight Center, Lyles’ leadership skills played an important role in implementing engineering best practices to track the product delivery and resolution support of the Ares I Upper Stage and Vehicle Integration projects. Lyles was recently named the Chief Engineer for the new Space Launch System (SLS) that will carry humans and cargo on future exploration missions.
An Alabama native, Lyles graduated from The University of Alabama with a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering in 1975, making him the first in his family to graduate from college. After graduation, Lyles joined the Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville and spent the first nine years of his career as a propulsion systems analyst. Following the Space Shuttle Challenger accident, Lyles served as part of the investigation of the external tank and solid rocket motor contingency team. After the Challenger investigation, Lyles moved to Utah to work directly with the contractor design engineers as the NASA lead engineer for the internal motor thermal redesign for which he was awarded the NASA Medal for Exceptional Engineering Achievement.
In 1989, Lyles returned to Marshall as branch chief of engine systems, and then accepted positions as deputy division chief and division chief leading 150 engineers responsible for providing support to the National Launch System Program Office. He received the NASA Medal for Exceptional Service in 1991.
Lyles was named the NASA resident manager of the Canoga Park, Calif., facility in 1993 to oversee the quality of space shuttle main engines, and in 1995, he was named the acting chief engineer of the space shuttle main engine project. From 1996 to 2002, he led the program team that developed the strategy for future launch systems for which he was awarded the Rank of Meritorious Executive.
In 2002, Lyles was chosen to manage the propulsion office of the second generation of reusable launch vehicles. During this time, he also provided technical support to the post-Columbia Integrated Space Transportation Plan. He accepted the position of chief engineer of the Exploration Systems Mission Directorate in Washington, D.C., in 2005. His responsibilities included the board technical cognizance, insight and oversight of all programs and responsibility to establish, approve and maintain technical requirements, processes and policy. He received the Rank of Meritorious Executive again in 2005. In 2007, he returned to Marshall as the engineering associate director for technical management. Lyles received NASA’s Distinguished Service Medal in 2009 for his key role in advancing NASA’s space exploration mission, developing the new space transportation architecture that led to the Ares I rocket.
The University of Alabama Distinguished Engineering Fellow lives in Madison with his wife, Diane. They are the proud parents of four children.