Space may be the final frontier, but after that there is always consulting.
Frederick Gregory, a former astronaut and deputy administrator of NASA, joined the Lohfeld Consulting Group last month as managing director of aerospace and defense strategies.
“He’s probably one of the best qualified people on the planet to deal in the aerospace strategy area,” said Bob Lohfeld, the Lohfeld Consulting Group’s president. “For us, it was easy to see here’s the guy we want. The hard part was convincing him he should join up with us.”
The group develops proposal strategies for companies seeking government contracts, primarily in the fields of information technology, engineering, aerospace and the military.
For Mr. Gregory, who left NASA in October after 31 years, the decision to join the firm was based on his desire to remain in the aerospace industry.
“This is an amazing group of people, and it doesn’t matter if you’re on the public side or the private side,” he said. “When you talk to people who are in the space program, many of them begin to tear up. Then what they talk about is how this will encourage kids to study science, engineering and math.”
Mr. Gregory brings to the job a background as an Air Force pilot, as well as his NASA career. At Lohfeld Consulting Group, he is focused on the future of the aerospace industry.
“I am principally a strategic thinker,” he said. That perspective “adds a kind of future dimension to [the group] that gets folks thinking more a bit beyond short term.”
After graduating from the U.S. Air Force Academy in 1964 with a bachelor’s degree in military engineering, he served as a helicopter rescue pilot in Vietnam until 1967.
In 1974, the Air Force loaned Mr. Gregory to NASA as a test pilot. After earning a master’s degree in information systems from George Washington University in 1977, Mr. Gregory applied to become an astronaut.
“It seemed to me to be a logical next step,” he said. “I couldn’t believe it, but I was selected.”
He moved to Houston in 1978 to begin the program and flew his first mission in 1985 as the pilot of the Space Shuttle Challenger.
The loss of the Challenger in January 1986 shook the nation, but the impact for Mr. Gregory was far more personal.
“I lost many good friends,” he said. “All of the members of that team, of that crew, were not just fellow astronauts; they were part of the family.”
Mr. Gregory flew two more missions, in 1989 and 1991, both times as commander. In 1992, he decided that the risks he faced in his career were placing unnecessary anxiety on his family.
“My career had always been on the ragged edge,” he said. So, he resolved to give up flying.
Dan Golden, NASA’s administrator at the time, invited Mr. Gregory to come to Washington, where he served in a variety of positions before being named deputy administrator of NASA in August 2002.
Mr. Gregory, 65, lives in Annapolis.
— Walter Frick