The following is a statement from NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine on the passing of Mike Freilich, passionate explorer and former director of NASA’s Earth Science Division:
Our planet has lost a true champion with the passing of Mike Freilich. NASA sends our condolences to his loved ones, and the entire NASA Family shares their loss.
As the head of NASA Earth Science, Mike was known for his diligence and an unwavering commitment to accuracy and making sure the science was strong. His oversize passion for all things related to expanding knowledge about the complex systems of our planet saw an incredible diversity of missions launch on his watch. Mike never avoided the tough decisions, but his deep expertise and innate love of science helped our agency to innovate and expand the ways it observes our home planet.
Mikes excellence as a scientist is well known. His dedication to oceanography and helping train the next generation of scientific leaders was inspiring. He won numerous awards throughout his career, and it was NASAs honor to join our colleagues at the European Space Agency, the European Organisation for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to name the Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich mission for him. This satellite will gather critical information about the oceans for which Mike had such an abiding passion.
Mike wept openly as he signed the launch vehicle for IceSat2, his last launch as Earth Science director. It was a testament to how much being able to work on missions that helped us to better understand our planet and improve life across it meant to him.
At NASA, we pledge to carry on that work and build on the legacy that Mike has left us. His presence will continue to be felt across the agency and our planet, in space and in our hearts.