David Spencer

David Spencer

2016 - Adjunct faculty


PhD, School of Aerospace Engineering, Georgia Institute of Technology, 2015
MS, Aeronautics and Astronautics, Purdue University, 1991
BS, Aeronautics and Astronautics Engineering, Purdue University, 1989


701 W. Stadium Ave.
West Lafayette, IN 47907-2045


Mission Design
Spacecraft relative motion
Aeroassist technologies
Mission operations
Small satellite applications

Awards and Major Appointments

Honors and Awards

NASA Exceptional Achievement Medal, Phoenix project management, 2009
NASA Space Act Award, Entry, Descent and Landing Monte Carlo Simulation, 2007
NASA Exceptional Achievement Medal, Deep Impact mission management, 2006
Outstanding Aerospace Engineer Award, Purdue University, 2004
NASA Exceptional Service Medal, Mars Odyssey mission system leadership, 2003
JPL Award for Excellence, Mars Surveyor 2001 trajectory design, 1999
NASA Exceptional Achievement Medal, Mars Pathfinder mission design, 1998
JPL Award for Excellence, Mars Pathfinder Entry, Descent and Landing design, 1998

Professional Affiliations

Associate Fellow, American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, since 2010
Board of Directors, American Astronautical Society, 2015 - present
Associate Editor, Journal of Spacecraft and Rockets, 2015 - present
Advisory Board, ARCS Foundation, 2009-2012
Member, The Planetary Society


Spencer, D.A., Chait, S.B., Schulte, P.Z., Okseniuk, K.J., and Veto, M., "Prox-1 University-Class Mission to Demonstrate Automated Proximity Operations," Journal of Spacecraft and Rockets, 10.2514/1.A33526.

Spencer, D.A., "Automated Trajectory Control Using Artificial Potential Functions to Target Relative Orbits," Journal of Guidance, Control, and Dynamics, Vol. 39, No. 9, pp. 2142-2148, September 2016.

Schulte, P.Z. and Spencer, D.A., "Development of an Integrated Spacecraft Guidance, Navigation, and Control Subsystem for Automated Proximity Operations," Acta Astronautica, Vol. 118, pp 168-186, January-February 2016.

Spencer, D.A. and Lovell, T.A., "Maneuver Design Using Relative Orbital Elements," Journal of Astronautical Sciences, Vol. 62, No. 4, pp. 315-350, December 2015.

Lovell, T.A. and Spencer, D.A., "Relative Orbital Elements Formulation Based Upon the Clohessy-Wiltshire Equations," Journal of Astronautical Sciences, Vol. 61, No. 4, pp. 341-366, December 2014.

Spencer, D.A., Gast, M.A., "Dynamics of Extra-Vehicular Activities in Low-Gravity Surface Environments," International Journal of Aeronautical and Space Sciences, Vol. 14, No. 1, pp. 11-18, March 2013.

Bonfiglio, E., Adams, D., Craig, L., Spencer, D., Arvidson, R., Heet, T., "Landing Site Dispersion Analysis and Statistical Assessment for the Mars Phoenix Lander," Journal of Spacecraft and Rockets, Vol. 48, No. 5, pp. 784-797, September-October 2011.

Spencer, D., Adams, D., Arvidson, R., Bonfiglio, E., Golombek, M., Seelos, K., "Phoenix Landing Site Hazard Assessment and Selection," Journal of Spacecraft and Rockets, Vol. 46, No. 6, pp. 1196-1201, November-December 2009.

Arvidson, R., Adams, D. Bonfiglio, G., Christensen, P., Cull, S., Golombek, M., Guinn, J., Guinness, E., Heet, T., Kirk, R., Knudson, A., Malin, M., Mellon, M., McEwen, A., Mushkin, A., Parker, T., Seelos, F., Seelos, K., Smith, P., Spencer, D., Stein, T., Tamppari, L, "Mars Exploration Program 2007 Phoenix landing site selection and characteristics," Journal of Geophysical Research-Planets, Vol. 113, No. E00A03, June 19, 2008.

Spencer, D. and Tolson, R., "Aerobraking Cost and Risk Decisions," Journal of Spacecraft and Rockets, Vol. 44, No. 6, pp 1285-1293, November-December, 2007.

Braun, R., Wright, H., Croom, M., Levine, J., and Spencer, D., "Design of the ARES Mars Airplane and Mission Architecture," Journal of Spacecraft and Rockets, Vol. 43 Iss. 5, pp. 1026-1034, September-October 2006.

Spencer, D., Blanchard, R., Braun, R., Kallemeyn, P., Peng, C-Y., and Thurman, S., "Mars Pathfinder Entry, Descent and Landing Reconstruction," Journal of Spacecraft and Rockets, Vol. 36 Iss. 3, pp. 357-366, May-June 1999.

Braun, R, Spencer, D., Kallemeyn, P., and Vaughan, R., "Mars Pathfinder Atmospheric Entry Navigation Operations," Journal of Spacecraft and Rockets, Vol. 36 Iss. 3, pp. 348-356, May-June 1999.

Vaughan, R., Kallemeyn, P., Spencer, D., Braun, R., "Navigation Flight Operations for Mars Pathfinder," Journal of Spacecraft and Rockets, Vol. 36 Iss. 3, pp. 340-347, May-June 1999.

Spencer, D. and Braun, R., "Mars Pathfinder Atmospheric Entry: Trajectory Design and Dispersion Analysis," Journal of Spacecraft and Rockets, Vol. 34, No. 2, pp. 670-676, March-April 1997.