Faculty biographies

James Adams

James Adams, Deputy Chief Technologist, NASA Headquarters, came to the Office of the Chief Technologist from NASA’s Science Mission Directorate. There, he served as the Deputy Director of the Planetary Science Division, overseeing the Discovery, New Frontiers, Lunar Science and Mars programs. He was responsible for the development of several key technologies including Ion Propulsion, Radioisotope Power Systems and Pu-238 production strategies. Prior to this post, Adams served as the Project Manager for the Tracking and Data Relay Satellite, as well as a Space Station Freedom Systems Integration Manager at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC).

Adams’ career experience spans both industry and government. In 1979, he joined General Electric as an engineer working on a variety of military and civilian space systems. He has worked on the design, development, testing, and operations of over 24 launched spacecraft, across three scientific disciplines and human spaceflight.

Adams earned his Bachelor of Science in Physics from Westminster College in New Wilmington, Penn. and his Master of Science degree in Electrical Engineering from Villanova University. 

He has been bestowed a number of awards and honors, from the NASA Outstanding Leadership Medal, the NASA Exceptional Achievement Medal, NASA Exceptional Service Medal and the “Business Solutions in the Public Interest” award from the Council for Excellence in Government.

Jim’s father worked in the aerospace industry and he says that space has always been a part of his life. He even had the chance to sit in the Mercury capsule during a “Family Day” at GSFC in the 1960s, recalling that it was very small in comparison to his family’s Oldsmobile. Jim likes swimming, kayaking, gardening, and cooking with his wife and son, and he holds a private pilot’s license.