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2005 NCSD Topical Meeting

Plenary Speakers

Matt Forsbacka, PhD

Associate Director, Prometheus Nuclear Systems and Technology Exploration Systems Mission Directorate


National Aeronautical and Space Administration Headquarters
Dr. Matt Forsbacka joined NASA Prometheus Nuclear Systems and Technology in October 2002, and he is the Nuclear Flight Systems Program Manager.  In this capacity, he is responsible for the development of NASA’s flagship robotic exploration spacecraft.  Prior to becoming a NASA employee, Matt served as the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board (DNFSB) site representative at the Y-12 National Security Complex and the Oak Ridge National Laboratory.  While in Oak Ridge, he had nuclear safety oversight responsibilities for complex national security activities.  Prior to that, he was a member of the DNFSB technical staff where he was cognizant engineer for nuclear criticality safety issues in the DOE complex as well has staff technical lead for various nuclear weapons programs.  Matt also served in the US Air Force.  Among his assignments: he was Reactor Operations Supervisor for a test and research nuclear reactor, taught physics at the US Naval Academy, and was a program manager for nuclear weapons stockpile support programs.

Matt holds Bachelor’s and Master’s Degrees in Nuclear Engineering from the University of Florida, and a Ph.D., also in Nuclear Engineering, from the University of Virginia.

Plenary Presentation:  “An Overview of NASA’s Prometheus Project

Dr. Forsbacka will provide an overview of NASA’s program to develop nuclear-fission powered spacecraft to conduct unprecedented science operations and exploration of our solar system.  Harnessing the thermal energy created by a nuclear reactor, NASA and its partners at the Department of Energy, are working to develop a new breed of spacecraft that will enable active navigation through space using high-power electric thrusters and allow for high band-width communication and high-power scientific and survey instruments.  Dr. Forsbacka will survey the technologies being developed and their potential applications in the context of space missions.