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. In 2013, for his exceptional lifelong contributions, he was awarded one of NASA’s highest honor for a non-government individual: The NASA Exceptional Public Service Medal.
Pittman was a member of the startup team for the SpaceHab Space Research Laboratory, the first commercial endeavor on a manned space vehicle. SpaceHab flew on 17 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.
With Rob Kelso of NASA JSC, Pittman co-developed 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 2014 Pittman was the lead author on a paper, “Lunar Station: The Next Logical Step in Space Development”, that was presented at the International Astronautical Congress in Toronto, Canada. In August 2014, Pittman helped organize the Low-Cost Strategies for Lunar Settlement Workshop that was held at the venture capital firm, DFJ, in Silicon Valley. The Lunar Station paper was a key topic of discussion at the Workshop. In 2016, he published a more focused Lunar Station article in the peer reviewed New Space Journal that remains as one of the most viewed articles in the journal since its publication.
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.
His career history is rich with contributions that have benefited both NASA and the nation-increasing 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:
- 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.
- Served as a founding or key member of the Space Portal, the Silicon Valley Space Club, the Space Investment Summit, NewSpace, the Lunar Exploration Analysis Working Group Commercial Advisory Board, 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.
He has also spent 11 years working at NASA Ames as a civil servant on a number of space projects including Pioneer Venus, the Infrared Astronomy Satellite, the Cryogenic Grating Spectrometer, Space Station Freedom (precursor to the International Space Station), the Large Deployable Reflector and several advanced studies programs.
He has worked with NASA as a contractor 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). From 1987-1992, Pittman was part of the NASA program and Project Management Initiative where he taught his Dynamic System Engineering course at multiple NASA centers and trained several hundred engineers and managers.
In addition, he was a founder or early member of the startup team in a number of early growth companies including Kistler Aerospace, New Focus, Product Factory, Prometheus II Ltd., and Industrial Sound and Motion.
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.
Mr.Pittman is an Associate Fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA), where he is Chair of the AIAA Commercial Space Group, and founder and first chairman of the AIAA System Engineering Technical Committee. He has authored over 40 papers and articles on technical and management topics in aerospace and high technology; and, was awarded two Superior Achievement Awards and two Group Achievement Awards, while working at NASA.