NASA’s Science Mission Directorate (SMD) is taking a giant leap focusing the agency’s exploration of the Moon, Mars and our Solar System.
Effective immediately, Steve Clarke is SMD’s Deputy Associate Administrator for Exploration. He will serve as the agency’s interface between the NASA mission directorates, the scientific community, and other external stakeholders in developing a strategy to enable an integrated approach for robotic and human exploration within NASA’s Exploration Campaign.
Clarke returns to NASA after serving as a senior policy analyst with the Office of Science and Technology Policy in the Executive Office of the President, where he was responsible for a number of important initiatives.
“Steve returns to a position ideally suited for him and the agency as we return to the Moon,” said NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine. “He’ll help integrate near-term and long-term lunar exploration with science missions and other destinations, including Mars.”
Clarke will play a vital role in NASA’s current lunar campaign with a focus on growing a network of commercial partnerships and activities that can support U.S. science, technology, and exploration objectives.
Ahead of sending astronauts back to the Moon, NASA is planning a series of robotic commercial delivery missions as early as 2019. These missions will deliver NASA instruments and technology to the lunar surface to conduct science and prepare for human footsteps once again. Among the instruments considered is the instrumentation suite from the former Resource Prospector mission concept.
Those commercial delivery missions will be the first robotic steps back on the Moon, and NASA will follow the early missions with the first of two mid-sized lander demonstration missions planned to launch in 2022. These mid-size lander missions, which will be built through public/private partnerships, will be integral to the development of even larger crewed lunar missions.
Clarke will formulate and execute an integrated strategy for exploration through cross-agency collaboration with NASA’s Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate, Space Technology Mission Directorate, NASA centers and inter-agency and international participation where appropriate. He’ll coordinate SMD research, technology development, and scientific payload development efforts to include commercial partnerships that benefit SMD science. He will identify potential interdisciplinary research and technology opportunities — including commercial — necessary for NASA’s Exploration Campaign. These opportunities could be incorporated into NASA SMD-funded research and technology development, including those applicable to future robotic and crewed missions.
Clarke joined NASA in 2000 as an integration engineer responsible for NASA’s scientific robotic missions. In 2003, he became the mechanical branch chief in the Launch Services Program, Kennedy Space Center, Florida. He was Chief of the Launch Vehicle Division in the Constellation Ground Operations Project Office established in 2005. In that position, he was responsible for developing launch vehicle ground processing interface requirements and instilling operability into launch vehicle designs. In 2009, he was selected as the Deputy Director of the Ground Operations Project Office. In 2013, he supported the Deputy Associate Administrator for The Exploration System Division, where he was responsible for the planning and development of the exploration architecture for human exploration beyond Earth orbit. Prior to his OSTP work, he served as SMD’s Director of the Heliophysics Division and prior to that as Director of the Joint Agency Satellite Division.
Clarke has a Bachelor of Science degree in engineering and a Master of Science degree in engineering management from the University of Central Florida.