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R. Bruce Pittman

Bruce Pittman
Senior Systems Engineer
Space Portal
NASA Research Park

Bruce Pittman has been at the forefront of commercial space development for public benefit for over thirty years. Currently he is Senior Vice President and Senior Operating Officer of the National Space Society and Chair of the AIAA Commercial Space Group.  In 2013, for his exceptional lifelong contributions, Mr. Pittman was awarded NASA's highest honor for a non-government individual: The NASA Distinguished Public Service Medal.

Mr. Pittman was an originating founder and developer of SpaceHab Space Research Laboratory, the first commercial endeavor on a manned space vehicle.  SpaceHab flew on 22 Space Shuttle missions,  realized over $1B in contracted sales, and opened the door for a wide range of research in basic science, life sciences, materials sciences, educational projects, and commercial applications.  

In 2005, Mr. Pittman was instrumental in the initiation and development of the Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) concept which was announced to the public in 2006.  The value of this approach was spectacularly demonstrated by SpaceX in 2010 with its successful orbital flight and landing of the Dragon capsule, the first private organization in history to have achieved this milestone at a fraction of the cost of traditional procurement approaches.

Mr. Pittman Co-Developed with Rob Kelso of NASA JSC  the Innovative Lunar Demonstrations Data program, a new commercial lunar initiative to leverage the Google Lunar X Prize for NASA and public benefits.   Through this initiative, announced in October 2010, NASA committed to purchase data related to innovative lunar missions from six Google Lunar X PRIZE teams.  NASA awarded small, firm-fixed price, indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contracts worth at least $10,000 to these companies, making them eligible to make later sales of lunar data worth as much as $10 million each.  In exchange, each of these companies will provide NASA with unique and valuable data regarding the demonstration of critical technical components required to mount successful, low cost missions to the lunar surface. These purchases demonstrate clearly that a new era of lunar exploration has begun, one in which government space agencies and commercial firms alike will play an important role in making missions to the Moon participatory and financially sustainable.

 In November 2010, Mr. Pittman was an initiating founder of the International Lunar Research Park, a public-private international partnership concept that received unanimous endorsement by the international community at the JUSTSAP 2010 conference (Japan-U.S. Science Technology and Applications Program).  As one of the conference organizers, Pittman was instrumental in focusing the conference on developing a critical path toward building sustainable robotic and human settlements beyond low-Earth-orbit.  Particular emphasis was given to evaluating both the benefits and feasible approaches to establishing a multi-national research park on the Moon that would be developed by a consortium of space-faring nations from around the world.

Pittman also led the In-Space Fuel Depot analysis for the Human Exploration Framework Team that offered a more cost-effective and nearer term option for implementing the Flexible Path approach recommended by the Augustine Committee, while providing significant benefits towards the development of a more robust commercial space industry in the U.S.   

Robert Bruce Pittman’s career history is rich with contributions that have benefited both NASA and the nation and increased opportunities for public participation in the space program.  In addition to the achievements described above, the following additional highlights describe some of the many successful endeavors that Mr. Pittman has led to promote the development of commercial space for public benefit.  Pittman:

  • Co-founded the Viking Fund which saved the highly productive Viking Lander from being shut down by raising $100,000 from school kids and private contributors.
  • Was a founding member of the Space Portal, the Silicon Valley Space Club, the Space Investment Summit, NewSpace, the Lunar Exploration Analysis Working Group , the AIAA Commercial Space Group , among many other worthy projects that promote the use of space for public benefit.
  • Current President of the Silicon Valley Space Club, a volunteer think tank that was instrumental in developing many new commercial space concepts.
  • Co-Developed Space 2.0 and Space-Rush, concepts for infrastructure based exploration that promotes and amplifies public participation in the exploration and development of space.   These concepts are becoming increasingly foundational to the implementation of the flexible path and the new concept emerging for future human spaceflight endeavors.  
Bruce Pittman is a founding member of the Alliance for Commercial Enterprise and Education in Space and is the Director, Flight Project for the NASA Commercial Space Portal at the Ames Research Center.  He has been involved in high technology product development, project management and system engineering for over 30 years. 

Pittman spent 11 years working at NASA Ames working on a number of space projects including Pioneer Venus, the Infrared Astronomy Satellite, the Cryogenic Grating Spectrometer, the International Space Station, and several advanced studies programs.  He has worked with NASA as a consultant on such pioneering projects as the Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (2006-2007), ISS Commercialization (2005-2006) High Speed Civil Transport (1997-1998), the Space Exploration Initiative (1989-1991) and the Space Shuttle Processing (1987-1988). 

Bruce was a founder and member of the startup team in a number of  early growth companies including SpaceHab, Kistler Aerospace, New Focus, Product Factory, Prometheus II Ltd., Industrial Sound and Motion and most recently, TransGeneos Inc.

Some of the major clients that Bruce has worked with include: Align Technologies, Agile Software, Boeing, Behring Diagnostic, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, Varian, Cepheid, Texas Instruments, Westinghouse as well as government agencies such as NASA and DOE.
Bruce has a BS in Mechanical Engineering from U. C. Davis and a MS in Engineering Management from Santa Clara University.  He is a member of the Board of Directors of the Society of Concurrent Product Development.  Bruce is also an Associate Fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics and founder and first chairman of the System Engineering Technical Committee. Currently, Bruce serves as a founding member of the organizing committee for the Space Investment Summit series and a member of the Aerospace Technology Working Group (ATWG).  He has authored over 2 dozen papers on technical and management topics in aerospace and high technology.  In addition to his technical work Bruce is also a member of the adjunct faculty in the Graduate Engineering School at Santa Clara University.

While working at NASA, Bruce was awarded two Superior Achievement Awards and two Group Achievement Awards.  He also received a Distinguished Leadership Award from the AIAA.