Beyond If Beyond If
If/When Nov 10, 2020

Deep Space Exploration: Proving What's Possible

Show Contributors: Dr. Mary Lynne Dittmar, Dr. Joy Kelly, Paul Thies


In this episode of If/When, we talked with Dr. Mary Lynne Dittmar, President and CEO of the Coalition for Deep Space Exploration, and Dr. Joy Kelly, Vice President and General Manager of the Jacobs Clear Lake Group at NASA’s Johnson Space Center. We discussed the reasons why for going to deep space, as well as some of the greatest challenges that need to be overcome. They also both reflected on their remarkable careers in aerospace, how they got started and who inspired them along the way.

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Episode notes

Dr. Mary Lynne Dittmar was President and CEO of the Coalition for Deep Space Exploration, an industry trade group supporting human exploration, science, commerce, and American leadership in space. Under her leadership the Coalition grew from 5 companies to more than 70 and is a recognized source for policy, technical and business information in the aerospace and defense sector.

Earlier in her career Dr. Dittmar managed the mission operations group for The Boeing Company on the International Space Station Program. Later, she acted as a special advisor to the NASA Astronaut Office before her appointment as Boeing Chief Scientist for Commercial Utilization of the ISS. More recently she was Senior Policy Advisor to International Space Station National Laboratory. She has also served as a senior advisor to NASA, the DoD, and the FAA. Mary Lynne is a Fellow of the National Research Society and an Associate Fellow of the American Institute for Astronautics and Aeronautics.

Dr. Joy Kelly is Vice President and General Manager of the Jacobs Clear Lake Group which provides design, development, and testing of spacecraft and associated systems for human spaceflight and astromaterials curation and basic research at NASA’s Johnson Space Center (JSC). Joy also serves on Jacobs Innovation Roundtable, a global council with responsibility to facilitate innovative work cultures throughout the company.

From 2008 – 2019 Dr. Kelly served as Deputy General Manager of the Clear Lake Group. From 2004 to 2008, she served as the ESC Group’s Director of Engineering and Chief Engineer on the contract, supporting the Space Shuttle and the International Space Station programs. Joy was previously Technical Fellow in Guidance, Navigation, and Control on the Technical and Engineering Acquisition Support (TEAS) contract at Eglin AFB. In this role, she served as the senior focal point for guidance, navigation, and control on major development and mission-critical programs. Her work during this tenure redefined critical bank-to-turn autopilot design strategies for future missile systems design and provided advanced robustness analysis approaches for a wide range of weapons systems.