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George Diller retires as NASA Launch Commentator, Public Affairs Information Specialist, after 37 years at space agency
June 14, 2017: George Diller, who is the longest-serving Launch Commentator for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)—and officially, a NASA Public Affairs Information Specialist at NASA’s John F. Kennedy Space Center in Florida—has retired after thirty-seven years at NASA and the famous, familiar voice of numerous NASA launches, missions and programs. Diller famously called the Space Shuttle Program’s return to flight in 2005; he rotated as the voice of the Space Shuttle Program; he was the Launch Commentator for NASA Television; he provided the commentary for the final Space Shuttle mission with Atlantis in 2011; and he was the Launch Commentator for the launch of the Hubble Space Telescope in 1990; probes launched to the moon, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Mercury and Pluto; and the Atlas V rocket that carried the Mars Laboratory and Curiosity rover. The native Floridian grew up in Sarasota, St. Petersburg and Clearwater and holds degrees in communications and business administration from the University of South Florida in Tampa.
Before he started working at NASA, he worked for eleven years in radio broadcasting at stations in Clearwater, Tampa, and Orlando.
In a video tribute to Diller, Kennedy Space Center Director Bob Cabana noted that Diller had been doing his job for thirty-three years with NASA and for four years as a contractor, including the last shuttle flight. “We're really going to miss hearing your golden voice on console during launch,” Cabana said. Diller said it was amazing for him to work with so many different spacecraft and payloads — and destinations, some of them interplanetary. “To be five feet from something that is going to another planet, to me that's really exciting,” Diller said.
Diller's expertise wasn't solely spacecraft and launches. He was the liaison to the NASA-KSC Weather Office, the U.S. Air Force 45th Weather Squadron, and the National Weather Service. Diller was also a Launch commentator on NASA Television for the launch countdown of both expendable launch vehicles and the Space Shuttle, including STS-135, the final space shuttle mission with the launch of Atlantis. He was the Launch Commentator for STS-31 with Discovery for the launch of the Hubble Space Telescope and all five of the subsequent telescope servicing missions. Among the expendable launch vehicles, Diller’s commentaries included the countdown for the Atlas V rocket carrying the Mars Science Laboratory with the Curiosity rover. NASA is an independent federal government agency.
Attribution: NASA, Kennedy Space Center, The Orlando Sentinel