Dr. John Mankins

John C. Mankins is the President of ARTEMIS Innovation Management Solutions LLC, a management consulting, research and development start-up focusing on solving tough innovation challenges for government, industry and not-for-profit clients. Mr. Mankins is internationally recognized as a successful leader in space systems and technology innovation, and as a highly effective manager of large-scale technology R&D programs. Artemis Innovation clients include the US Department of Energy, the Office of Naval Research, the European Space Agency, and others. His 25-year career at NASA ranged from flight projects and space mission operations, to systems-level innovation and advanced technology research & development, to the management of diverse technology research and development programs. He has extensive experience and knowledge involving NASA, the aerospace industry, academia and the international space community—as well with other U.S. Agencies, including the Department of Defense, (DDR&E, DARPA, NRO, NSSO, and others), the National Science Foundation, and others. He is also well known as an innovator in R&D management, and was one of the creators of the widely used “technology readiness level” (TRL) scale for technology assessment. Mr. Mankins is an acknowledged subject matter expert in these fields; he has testified before Congress on several occasions, and has been consulted on both R&D management and space issues by the General Accounting Office, the Office of the Chief Technologist of the U.S. Navy, the U.S. National Security Space Architect, Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI), and others. In his most recent position at NASA, he was the manager of the Exploration Systems Research and Technology (ESR&T) Theme within the Exploration Systems Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters—a key element of the U.S. Vision for Space Exploration. He was responsible for leading and managing an $800M per year technology R&D program, involving 15 program elements, more than 100 individual projects and organizations, and over 3,000 personnel (inside and external to NASA), including an immediate office staff of some 30 professionals and support staff. During 2004, he was responsible for planning, organizing and leading the implementation of two of the largest, most successful technology acquisitions in NASA’s history. He had responsibility for strategy, analyses, planning, organization, budget, acquisition, and program management related to human and robotic space exploration. Mr. Mankins has received numerous honors, including the prestigious NASA Exceptional Technology Achievement Medal (of which he was the first recipient). He was recognized in “Who’s Who” on various occasions and named by SpaceNews as one of the “100 People Who Made A Difference In Space” (during 1989-2004)—a distinction he shared with NASA Administrators O’Keefe (former) and Griffin (current), as well as with former Congressman Robert Walker, innovator Burt Rutan, and others. Mr. Mankins has in recent years served as Assistant Associate Administrator for Advanced Systems in the NASA Office of Space Flight and as the Chief Technologist for the Human Exploration and Development of Space (HEDS) Enterprise; and in 2000 he was the lead author of the HEDS Strategic Plan. He also served as the technology lead for the NASA Exploration Team (NEXT); in which role Mr. Mankins established a family of strategic roadmaps to develop technology for human and robotic exploration and development of space (a.k.a., “THREADS”). These roadmaps formed one basis for NASA technology budget inputs during 2000-2003. During 1990-1991, he was the chief architect and author of the NASA Integrated Technology Plan, developed in response to the Report of the Committee on the Future of the U.S. Space Program (the so-called "Augustine Committee"). For 10 years Mr. Mankins was also the manager of Advanced Concepts Studies at NASA Headquarters (in several organizations, including the Office of Space Access and Technology and the Office of Space Flight). He conducted studies of space solar power, highly reusable space transportation, affordable human exploration approaches, and other topics. He was the creator or co-creator of various novel systems concepts, including the "MagLifter' electromagnetic launch assist system, the Internet-based NASA “Virtual Research Center” (winner of a Software of the Year Award), the “Solar Clipper” interplanetary transport vehicle, the “SunTower” space solar power system, the patented “Hybrid Propellant Module” for in-space refueling, the “HabBot” mobile planetary outpost architecture, the Advanced Technology Life cycle Analysis System (ATLAS), and others. He also served as the manager of various other technology programs, including the HEDS Technology and Commercialization Initiative (HTCI); the Aerospace Industry Technology Program (AITP: an industry-led, industry-NASA technology R&D program); and, NASA's Pathfinder and Exploration Technology Programs (focusing on human and robotic deep space exploration). In summary, Mr. Mankins has an exceptional background in organizing and implementing technology R&D; including strategic planning, advanced studies, program planning, line management, facilities planning, and program implementation (including leadership of more than a half-dozen major R&D procurements). Before coming to NASA, Mr. Mankins held a variety of positions at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL); including technologist for the Systems Division, manager for Space Station Requirements Analysis at JPL, manager of the systems analysis program at JPL, and manager for Mars Rover and Sample Return pre-Project technology requirements. Mr. Mankins holds undergraduate (Harvey Mudd College) and graduate (UCLA) degrees in Physics and earned an MBA in Public Policy Analysis (The Drucker School at Claremont Graduate University). He is a member of the International Academy of Astronautics (IAA), the International Astronautical Federation (IAF), the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA), and the Sigma Xi Research Society.

Broadcast 609 (Special Edition)

Dr. John Mankins was the guest for this special Space Show program. We began the interview by asking Dr. Mankins what would be needed to transform space to a more ordinary component of our terrestrial economy. This discussion led us to a detailed discussion regarding energy from space and space solar power. Dr. Mankins took us through ground infrastructure, the launch component, alternative launch possibilities, the space component with satellites, and the economics of power.


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