Phil Sabelhaus

Phil Sabelhaus speaking at a Goddard Visitor Center event in 2012. Photo credit: Bill Hrybyk, NASA Goddard

Feb 8, 2017 • Yesterday morning, longtime Landsat leader Phil Sabelhaus passed away after a brief battle with cancer. Sabelhaus was pivotal to the development of the most recent Landsat satellites. He served as the Landsat 7 project manager; then the Landsat 8 project manager from Nov. 2010 until retiring in Jan. 2012; and most recently he was part of the Landsat 9 development team in a contractor capacity.

“Much of the success of Landsat 7 and Landsat 8 can be attributed to Phil’s energy, leadership, and creativity,” said Jeff Masek, the Landsat 9 project scientist. “The Landsat community mourns his passing, and is grateful for his enthusiasm and dedication to the program over the last two decades.”

The NASA Goddard Center Director, Chris Scolese, shared this remembrance of him:

Phil joined the Goddard family in 1978, right after he graduated from the University of Maryland with a B.S. in mechanical engineering. His first job was in the Instrument Systems Analysis Branch. In 1981, Phil went to work as the Launch Vehicle Integration Manager for GTE Spacenet Corporation. During this time, he managed the launch vehicle integration activities for three communication satellites launched aboard Ariane launch vehicles from French Guiana.

Phil returned to Goddard in the summer of 1985 to work on the NASA Space Station Program. In 1989, he joined the Flight Programs and Projects Directorate, Code 400. Since then, he has served as a deputy project manager, project manager and program manager in the Flight Programs and Projects Directorate, and as a project manager for the James Webb Space Telescope. He most recently worked on Landsat 9.

He led the teams that successfully launched the TOMS-EP, Landsat 7 and the EOS Aqua satellites.

Phil was the recipient of the SES Presidential Rank Award, the William T. Pecora Award, the Nelson P. Jackson Aerospace Award, two Aviation Week and Space Technology Laurels Awards, as well as several NASA Outstanding Leadership Awards.

The flight control room in the Webb Mission Operations Center will be named in his honor.

Further Information:
+ Goddard Center Director Remarks on Passing of Phil Sabelhaus