January 29, 2016Winters Named New Horizons Project Manager

Helene Winters
(Image credit: Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory)

The New Horizons mission has a new project manager: Helene Winters assumed the role from Glen Fountain last week. Fountain, who has been project manager since the spacecraft was still in design in early 2004, plans to retire after 12 years at the helm of the first mission to Pluto.

Winters, who like Fountain is from the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Maryland, brings several years of program and project management to her new post. She served as project manager for the Mini-RF lunar radar instrument, and most recently as project manager for the MESSENGER mission, which orbited Mercury for four years before a planned dive into Mercury’s surface last April. Winters will also continue as MESSENGER project manager through that mission’s closeout stages.

Winters earned a bachelor’s degree in computer science from James Madison University and a master’s in systems engineering from Johns Hopkins University. She joined APL in 1997.

“Over the past 15 years New Horizons has had two of the finest project managers in the space business, the late Tom Coughlin, who helped conceive the mission, and the legendary Glen Fountain, who built New Horizons and flew us to Pluto,” said Principal Investigator Alan Stern, of the Southwest Research Institute, Boulder, Colorado. “Helene Winters, from a new generation and with incredible experience behind her, is going to set new milestones flying the spacecraft farther, hopefully to the first ever flyby of a Kuiper Belt object and onward toward the edge of our planetary system!”

The Applied Physics Laboratory designed, built and operates the New Horizons spacecraft, and also manages this New Frontiers-class mission for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate.