Dr. Alan Stern is a planetary scientist, space program executive, aerospace consultant, and author. In 2007, he was named to the Time 100 and was appointed NASA’s chief of all science missions. Since 2009, he has been an Associate Vice President at the Southwest Research Institute, and has since 2008 had his own aerospace consulting practice. Additionally, in 2011 he was appointed to be the Director of the Florida Space Institute.
Dr. Stern’s current and former consulting clients include Jeff Bezos’s Blue Origin, Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic, Naveen Jain’s Moon Express Google Lunar X-Prize team, Ball Aerospace, the NASTAR Center, Embry Riddle Aeronautical University, and the Johns Hopkins University. Dr. Stern is also the CEO of two small businesses and serves on the board of directors of the Commercial
Spaceflight Federation. He is currently training to fly a series of suborbital space research missions with Virgin Galactic and XCOR Aerospace in 2014-2015. Dr. Stern also served as the Chief Scientist and Mission Architect for the Moon Express Google Lunar X-Prize Team from 2010-2013. From 2008-2012 he served on the board of directors of the Challenger Center for Space Science Education.
In 2007 and 2008, Dr. Stern served as NASA’s chief of all space and Earth science programs, directing a $4.4B organization with 93 separate flight missions and a program of over 3,000 research grants. During his NASA tenure, a record 10 major new flight projects were started and deep reforms of NASA’s scientific research and the education and public outreach programs were put in place. His tenure was notable for an emphasis on cost control in NASA flight missions that resulted in a 63% decrease in cost overruns. In 2007, he was named to the Time 100’s list of most influential people.
Dr. Stern is the Principal Investigator (PI) of NASA’s $720M New Horizon’s Pluto-Kuiper Belt mission, the largest PI-led space mission ever launched by NASA. New Horizons launched in 2006. Dr. Stern is also the PI of two instruments aboard New Horizons, the Alice UV spectrometer and the Ralph Visible Imager/IR Spectrometer.
Dr. Stern is a fellow of the AAAS and the IAF, and a member of the AAS and the AGU; he was elected incoming chair of the Division of Planetary Sciences in 2006. He has been awarded the Von Braun Aerospace Achievement Award of the National Space Society.