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Dr. Jonathan E. Jones

NASA Technical Fellow for Propulsion

Dr. Jones currently serves as the NASA Technical Fellow for Propulsion.  

Dr. Jones began his NASA career at Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC) in 1999 as an aerospace engineer in the Space Transportation Directorate’s Propulsion Research Center leading multiple studies and experiments of advanced propulsion systems.  He was the Technical Lead for NASA’s decadal planning activities creating roadmaps for chemical, electric, and nuclear propulsion technology maturation. He is an expert in advanced diagnostic techniques and has published experimental results of propulsion system performance in electron cyclotron resonance thrusters, laser lightcraft, Hall thrusters, plasma sails, pulsed detonation engines, and gun launch systems (Slingatron and Blastwave Accelerator).   

Dr. Jones served as the Ballistics’ Team Lead during the closeout of the Space Shuttle Program and formulation of the Constellation Program.  Specific projects included measurement of roll torque in the reusable solid rocket motor (RSRMV) and quantification of pressure oscillations impacting Ares I/I-X.  In 2011, Dr. Jones served as the propulsion lead for Team 3 during the Requirements Analysis Cycle for the Space Launch System (SLS) coordinating analysis for multiple modular architectures derived from existing expendable launch vehicles. At the conclusion of the RAC study, Dr. Jones became the Technical Assistant for the Solid Propulsion Systems Division where he oversaw research, development, and educational outreach. He established the Nanolaunch Project at MSFC including the development of SBIR and STTR topics to advance the state of the art. Utilizing NASA’s Propulsion Academy and university senior design teams, he enabled students from multiple universities to participate in development activities integrated on teams with seasoned NASA engineers. Under his leadership, the Nanolaunch Project advanced the use of additive manufacturing in solid, liquid, and hybrid propulsion systems including novel component development.

Dr. Jones is a strong advocate of lunar exploration. Shortly after the call to return to the moon, he was selected to serve as the Deputy Chief Engineer for the Human Landing System. During formulation, selection, and protests leading to the Option A award, Dr. Jones played a key role in HLS’s success. He helped formulate the adjudication process which allowed providers to demonstrate that their best practices and standards met the intent of NASA standards.  He advocated with NASA’s OCE for a collaborative approach enabling the best of government and industry to synergistically solve key challenges facing a return to the moon.

Before coming to NASA, Jonathan was the Von Braun Propulsion Fellow at the University of Alabama in Huntsville where he earned his PhD.  He also holds a master’s degree in Mechanical Engineering from Utah State University, and a bachelor’s degree in Physics from Brigham Young University.  Dr. Jones’ hobbies center around his family and include attending dance performances and band concerts, camping, hiking, coaching soccer, and mentoring robotics. teams.