Dr. Alan Stern is a planetary scientist, space program executive, aerospace consultant, and author. He leads NASA’s $880M New Horizons mission that successfully explored the Pluto system and is now exploring the Kuiper Belt—the farthest exploration in the history of humankind.
In 2020, NASA selected Dr. Stern to fly as the first NASA-funded commercial space crewmember aboard a Virgin Galactic suborbital space mission. The flight is expected to take place in 2022; there he will perform astronomical and space physiology experiments.
In both 2007 and 2016, Dr. Stern was named to the Time 100 list. In 2007 and 2008, he 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.
Since 2008, Dr. Stern has had his own aerospace consulting practice. His 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, Paragon Space Development Corporation, the NASTAR Center, Embry Riddle Aeronautical University, and the Johns Hopkins University.
Dr. Stern is a founder and serves as the Chief Science Officer of World View, a near-space ballooning company. In 2016 and again in 2017 he was elected to be the Board Chairman of the Commercial Spaceflight Federation.