The steady hand who led NASA's shuttle launch team through the assembly of the International Space Station, the recovery from the 2003 Columbia accident and the retirement of the shuttle fleet is departing the nation's space agency this week after almost three decades of service.
Veteran Shuttle Launch Director Mike Leinbach will be joining "a major aerospace company," taking a job that will keep he and his wife, Charlotte, on Florida's Space Coast. They reside in Scottsmoor.
"Our roots here are very deep, and we look forward to continuing our friendships and activities in the area. Our paths WILL cross again. Of that I'm certain," Leinbach said Sunday in an e-mail to friends and colleagues.
His last day with NASA will be Wednesday.
"I have been blessed to be so fortunate in my career, but it's time to move on," Leinbach wrote. "Being part of America's space flight program was a dream of mine from a very early age. Trust me, I know how lucky I've been."
After 27 years with NASA, Leinbach signed off much in the same way he eloquently sent U.S. astronaut crews into orbit:
"Good Luck, and Godspeed."
And to Mike, and Charlotte, from all of us: "Have a little fun out there."