David A Spencer


David Spencer is a Professor of the Practice within the School of Aerospace Engineering and Co-Director for the Space System Design Laboratory, a multi-disciplinary research and educational organization dedicated to the design, development and operations of advanced space systems and technologies. He joined the Georgia Tech faculty in 2008 after seventeen years with the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. While at the JPL, he was the Deputy Project Manager for the Phoenix Mars Lander, Mission Manager for the Deep Impact and Mars Odyssey projects, and mission designer for Mars Pathfinder and TOPEX/Poseidon. He is the author or co-author of technical publications in the fields of mission design, flight operations, and system engineering.


NASA Exceptional Achievement Medal, Phoenix project management, 2009; NASA Space Act Award, Entry, Descent and Landing Monte Carlo Simulation,2007; NASA Exceptional Achievement Medal, Deep Impact mission management, 2006; Outstanding Aerospace Engineer Award, Purdue University, 2004; NASA Exceptional Service Medal, Mars Odyssey mission design, 2003; JPL Award for Excellence, Mars Surveyor 2001 trajectory design, 1999; NASA Exceptional Achievement Medal, Mars Pathfinder mission design, 1998; JPL Award for Excellence, Mars Pathfinder Entry, Descent and Landing design, 1998;

  • Space Systems Design Lab (SSDL)
  • Center for Space Technology & Research (C-STAR)
AE Academic Disciplines:
  • Systems Design & Optimization