Rice University logo
Top blue bar image

February 5, 2014

NASA 4.0: The Evolution of America’s Human Space Exploration Program

Mark K. Craig
Retired NASA engineer, manager and executive

February 5, 2014
7:00 pm
Duncan Hall, McMurtry Aud.

Reception at 6:30 in Martel Hall

Since Alan Shepard’s historic flight in 1961, NASA human space exploration’s mission has been reinvented several times to meet the needs and address the opportunities of its changing environment. This talk will examine the “trajectory” of human space exploration from its storied past into its emerging future, a future shaped by its role in the commercial development of space to pursue enduring national interests, to enhance sustainability of the exploration enterprise and, ultimately, to expand permanent human presence beyond low Earth orbit.

Mark was raised in Midland, Texas and began his career at NASA in Houston as a co-op student on the Apollo program in 1967. There he subsequently worked on the Apollo-Soyuz, Space Shuttle, Space Station, Mars Rover Sample Return, and Moon-Mars Exploration programs in positions progressing from engineer to program manager. He is a technical expert in spacecraft design and analysis. At NASA Headquarters in Washington, Mark was Assistant Administrator, Space Exploration and architect of the NASA Strategic Plan. He was Director of NASA’s Stennis Space Center and Associate Director of NASA’s Johnson Space Center. To museums and themed attractions here and abroad Mark is an advisor on space exploration. After a 38 year career with NASA he is now VP of Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC).

Mark earned a B.S. in Astronautical Engineering from Purdue University in 1971, pursued engineering post-graduate study at Rice University, and completed MIT’s Sloan Program for Senior Executives. He has authored over 35 papers on technical and strategic aspects of space exploration and has received numerous awards, including the NASA Distinguished Service and Outstanding Leadership Medals and the Federal Engineer of the Year Award of the NSPE. He is a Fellow of the American Astronautical Society and is a Distinguished Engineering Alumnus of Purdue. Mark was elected to the International Academy of Astronautics in 1992 and was elected President of the American Astronautical Society in 2005. He is a member of the National Eagle Scout and College Art Associations, an elder at Houston’s First Presbyterian Church, and is a patron of the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston.