Ryan Whitley

National Space Council, Director of Civil Space Policy, on detail from NASA Johnson Space Center

Ryan Whitley is the director of Civil Space Policy for the National Space Council. The National Space Council is directed to review United States Government space policy, including long-range goals, and develop a strategy for national space activities; develop recommendations for the President on space policy and space-related issues; monitor and coordinate implementation of the objectives of the President’s national space policy and strategy; foster close coordination, cooperation, and technology and information exchange among the civil, national security, and commercial space sectors; advise on participation in international space activities conducted by the United States Government; and facilitate the resolution of differences concerning major space and space-related policy matters.

Prior to the detail at the National Space Council, Ryan was the Deputy Systems Integration Manager in the Exploration Mission Planning Office at NASA Johnson Space Center. His primary responsibility was to lead mission design and architecture activities for future human space exploration projects. He served as the chair of the International Architecture Working Group (IAWG), a sub team of the International Space Exploration Coordination Group (ISECG). He led the development of the Global Exploration Roadmap (GER) mission scenario in the most recent version of the document published in January 2018 reaffirming the shared human space exploration interests of 14 space agencies. Ryan was the mission design lead for the Gateway project, providing expertise and managing engineering teams in the development of cislunar transfer trajectories, orbit maintenance algorithms and attitude control schemes. Ryan also led the coordination of NASA’s mission design and operations support for KARI’s (Korean Aerospace Research Institute) KPLO (Korean Pathfinder Lunar Orbiter) mission. Ryan served on the Mars Exploration Program Analysis Group (MEPAG) goals committee that plans and prioritizes Mars exploration activities.

Starting in 2001, Ryan began his career in a flight mechanics group focused on trajectory design. He is a technical expert in multiple phases of flight, including ascent, entry and in-space for multiple destinations including the Moon, Asteroids and Mars. Significant technical contributions include the development of a unique algorithm that auto generates a 3-burn maneuver sequence to return a spacecraft to a fixed landing site on Earth from orbits around the Moon. Ryan has helped NASA construct feasible scenarios for the elements needed to send humans deeper into space and other planetary surfaces, such as the evaluation of proposed staging locations for deep space operations. To aid in the analytics, he has developed a set of tools to parametrically design a wide variety of spacecraft elements.

Ryan received his B.S. in Aerospace Engineering from Purdue University and his M.S. in Aerospace Engineering from the University of Texas at Austin specializing in celestial mechanics and non-linear trajectory optimization. At the Johnson Space Center he completed the Space Systems Engineering Development Program that concluded with a graduate certificate from the Steven’s Institute of Technology.