Leadership Board

Dr. Ram S. Jakhu

Professor Ram Jakhu is Director of, and a tenured Associate Professor at, the Institute of Air and Space Law, McGill University, Montreal, Canada. He teaches and conducts research in international space law, law of space applications, law of space commercialization, space security, national regulation of space activities, and public international law. He served as Director, Centre for the Study of Regulated Industries, McGill University, during 1999-2004.

He served as the First Director and Faculty Member of the Master of Space Studies Program of the International Space University, Strasbourg, France, during 1995-1998. Professor Jakhu has taught Space Law and Policy in several countries, and policy related conferences and workshops around the world, and currently heads a multi-million dollar research and outreach program for space law and policy.

Professor Jakhu is the Chair of the Management Board of the McGill Manual on International Law Applicable to Military Uses of Outer Space Project (MILAMOS), coeditor of International Study on Global Space Governance, and Member of the World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council on Space. In 2016, he received the “Leonardo da Vinci Life-Long Achievement Award” from the International Association for the Advancement of Space Safety and in 2007 the “Distinguished Service Award” from International Institute of Space Law for significant contribution to the development of space law.

Professor Jakhu has co-authored three books, more than 100 articles and 20 research reports and edited nine books, including the one that received the 2011 Book Award from the International Academy of Astronautics.

A Canadian citizen for over 40 years, he has visited over 70 countries in the world and has often been interviewed by the global media regarding matters related to space policy, law and programs. He holds Doctor of Civil Law (Dean’s Honours List) and Master of Law (LLM) degrees from McGill University, Canada, as well as LLM, LLB, and BA degrees from Panjab University, India.

Mr. David A. Bell

David A. Bell, an industry leader in marketing communications, is the former chairman emeritus of the Interpublic Group, among the world’s largest marketing communications and services companies. Following the True North-Interpublic merger, Mr. Bell served as vice chairman with leadership responsibility for two operating divisions: The Partnership, and later, Advanced Marketing Services. Prior to the merger Mr. Bell was chairman and chief executive officer of True North Communications Inc., the world’s sixth largest global advertising and marketing communications holding company.

Under his leadership, True North global brands expanded the company’s competitiveness while significantly improving True North shareholder value in just two years. Before his appointment to CEO of True North, Mr. Bell led Bozell Worldwide as president and chief executive officer.

A 1965 graduate of Macalester College in St. Paul, Minn., Mr. Bell was president of the student body and a champion debater. Later becoming the college’s youngest trustee, he received both the Macalester College Distinguished Alumni Award and its Charter Centennial Medallion. Mr. Bell was inducted into the Advertising Hall of Fame in 2007.

Col. Mike Mullane, USAF, Retired

Col. Mike Mullane is a retired United States Air Force Colonel and aviator. He holds a Master’s of Science Degree in Aeronautical Engineering from the Air Force Institute of Technology and is also a graduate of the Air Force Flight Test Engineer School at Edwards Air Force Base, California.

Col. Mullane was selected as a Mission Specialist in 1978 in the first group of Space Shuttle Astronauts. He completed three space missions aboard the Shuttles Discovery (STS-41D) and Atlantis (STS-27 & 36) before retiring from NASA and the Air Force in 1990.

Col. Mullane has been inducted into the International Space Hall of Fame and is the recipient of many awards, including the Air Force Distinguished Flying Cross, Legion of Merit and the NASA Space Flight Medal.

Since his retirement from NASA, Colonel Mullane has written an award-winning children’s book, ‘Liftoff! An Astronaut’s Dream’, and a popular space-fact book, ‘Do Your Ears Pop In Space?’. His memoir, ‘Riding Rockets: The Outrageous Tales of a Space Shuttle Astronaut’, has been reviewed in the New York Times and on the Daily Show with Jon Stewart. It has also been featured on Barnes and Noble’s 2010 recommended summer reading list.

Mr. Robert Pearlman

Robert Pearlman is a journalist, space historian and editor of collectSPACE, the leading online news and community site for space history professionals and enthusiasts.

Mr. Pearlman’s original “Ask An Astronaut” website preceded NASA’s efforts to connect the public with the men and women who have flown in space. Later, as the online program director for the National Space Society, Pearlman led the redesign and expansion of the organization’s online resources and website, including authoring the educational viewer’s guide for Tom Hanks’ award-winning HBO miniseries “From the Earth to the Moon.”

In 1997, Mr. Pearlman was recruited by Apollo 11 moonwalker Buzz Aldrin to develop the website accompanying Aldrin’s first novel, “Encounter with Tiber.”

In 1996, Pearlman was hired by Space Adventures, Ltd., the first company to launch privately-financed individuals (“space tourists”) to the International Space Station (ISS), as its first Marketing and Public Relations Director.

Today, in addition to editing collectSPACE, Pearlman is a contributing writer for Space.com.

Mr. Pearlman serves on the American Astronautical Society’s History Committee and nominating induction committee for the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame in Florida. He’s a member of the Advisory Board for The Mars Generation and was previously on the board of directors of the National Space Society and U.S. Spacewalk of Fame Foundation. He is a former National Chair of the Students for the Exploration and Development and Space (SEDS). In 2009, Pearlman was inducted into the Space Camp Hall of Fame, in part for his work on collectSPACE.

Mr. John Thornton

John Thornton is the Chief Executive Office of Atrobotic Technology, Inc., a lunar logistics company that delivers payloads to the Moon. 

Mr. Thornton has grown Astrobotic’s business of delivering affordable space robotics technology and planetary missions by attracting technology contracts, equity investment, and payload customers. Thornton is coordinating the team and alliance for Peregrine’s development and the first mission. At Carnegie Mellon, Thornton led the build of Scarab, a NASA concept robot for lunar drilling, and the first robot to carry a prototype of NASA’s RESOLVE payload. He founded Carnegie Mellon’s Advanced Composites Lab, a research, training, design, and manufacturing lab specializing in high performance, lightweight composites for robotics.

Dr. Joseph N. Pelton

Dr. Joseph N. Pelton is the former Vice President of Academic Programs, Dean and Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the International Space University of Strasbourg, France. He is also the Director Emeritus of the Space and Advanced Communications Research Institute at George Washington University.

Dr. Pelton is a Co-Editor of the newly completed book ‘Global Space Governance: An International Study’. He is currently on the Executive Board of the International Association for the Advancement of Space Safety and chair of its International Academic Committee. He is the award-winning author and editor of some 50 books and over 300 articles in the field of space, satellite communications systems, future technologies and urban planning.

Dr Pelton has also served as Director of the Interdisciplinary Telecommunications Program at the University of Colorado-Boulder and in a number of executive capacities at Intelsat and the Comsat Corporation earlier in his career, including as Director of Strategic Policy and Director of Project SHARE at Intelsat.

He obtained his PhD in International Relations and Affairs from Georgetown University, a Master’s Degree in International Relations and Affairs from New York University and a Bachelor’s Degree in Physics, Math and Political Science from the University of Tulsa.

Mr. Rick Tumlinson

Space News named Rick Tumlinson  one of the 100 most influential people in the space field.  He is considered one of the people who helped create the current commercial space industry. He led the team that took over the Mir Space Station as the world’s first commercial space facility, signed up financier Dennis Tito to become the first citizen explorer to stay on the International Space Station and was a Founding Trustee of the X Prize. He co-founded the Space Frontier Foundation and founded the Texas Space Alliance, the EarthLight Institute and Orbital Outfitters – provider of commercial space suits to the new industry of suborbital space travel. He has testified on space policy issues twice for the US Senate, four times in the US House of Representatives and assisted NASA in the creation of its plan to return to the Moon and the formation of the Lunar Exploration Analysis Group. He is a regular contributor to the Huffington Post and Space News.

Col. Robert C. Springer, USMC, Retired

Robert C. Springer is a veteran of both NASA and the United States Marine Corps. He has logged more than 6,500 flying hours in his career, including as a mission specialist on two space shuttle flights, the STS-29 mission aboard Discovery and the STS-38 mission aboard Atlantis.

A graduate of the United States Naval Academy, Col. Springer has served two tours in Vietnam, where he completed more than 300 combat missions flying F-4 phantoms and more than 250 missions flying helicopters.

He served as a test pilot for more than 20 different aircraft during his military career.

In 1980, Springer was selected to be an astronaut by NASA. He worked as orbit Capsule Communicator, or CAPCOM, in the Mission Control Center for seven flights between 1984 and 1985.

Col. Springer is an active member of the Society of Experimental Test Pilots, the Marine Corps Aviation Association, and the United States Naval Academy Alumni Association. He is also a member of the Operations Research Society and the Military Operations Research Society. Col. Springer has served as Chairman of the Board of Directors for Space is Special, a non-profit organization dedicated to using the hands-on applications of the space program to educate children with learning disabilities. He has also served on the Brevard County School Board and is on the board of Keep Brevard Beautiful, The Astronaut Memorial Foundation, and is President of the Board of Directors for the Education Foundation.

Dr. James R. Hansen

James R. Hansen has written about aerospace history and the history of science and technology for the past thirty years. He has published books and articles on a wide variety of topics ranging from the early days of aviation, the first nuclear fusion reactors, and the Moon landings, to the environmental history of golf courses.

His book, First Man (Simon & Schuster, 2005), the first and only authorized biography of Neil Armstrong, the first man on the Moon, spent three weeks on the New York Times Bestseller list and has garnered several major book awards including the American Astronautical Society’s Eugene Emme Prize for Astronautical Literature and the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics’ Outstanding Book Award. First Man has also been published in the United Kingdom and in Japanese translation and is scheduled to appear in Chinese, Russian, Croatian, and Turkish. The film rights to the book are held by Universal Studios and a screenplay for the film has recently been completed by Mike Rich, whose movie screenwriting credits include Finding Forrester, The Rookie, Miracle, Radio, The Nativity Story, and the 2010 Disney release Secretariat.

Mr. Derek Webber

Derek Webber is dual nationality US/UK, an advocate of commercial space, and for over 25 years has provided US-based entrepreneurial consulting and advisory services as Founder of Spaceport Associates. He directed landmark studies in space tourism and spaceport business planning which established the existence of a viable business for space tourism, and worked with the FAA to establish balanced regulation for the industry. He furthermore provided testimony on space tourism’s potential to the President’s Commission on the Future of the US Aerospace Industry. He is currently Vice-Chair of the panel of International Judges for the Google Lunar XPRIZE, which aims at landing a non-governmental mobile robotic payload on the Moon and sending images back, and in that capacity he has particular responsibility for Lunar Heritage Site protection amongst the competing teams.   He has recently created the Gateway Earth Development Group, an initiative to provide a low-cost joint commercial/governmental space architecture for regular interplanetary travel, and advocates for the inclusion of space settlement as a long-term goal of US space policy.

Mr. Webber’s contributions began as a launch vehicle and satellite engineer in the UK, in what became EADS/Astrium Space Systems. He became Head of Procurement at the London-based International Maritime Satellite Organization, a UN intergovernmental organization, where he was responsible for negotiating and contracting over a billion dollars-worth of communications satellites and their launch vehicles.  Subsequently, Mr Webber moved to Amsterdam as Managing Director of Tachyon Europe – providing satellite broadband and Internet access across the continent. Mr Webber is a Fellow of the British Interplanetary Society, a Senior Member of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, and is on the visiting faculty of the London Institute of Space Policy and Law. He has been a visiting lecturer at the International Space University in Strasbourg, Toronto, Kitakyushu, Huntsville and Barcelona, has conducted space business in over 40 countries, and is a frequent commentator in space publications, and on radio and TV shows, on matters of commercial space. He has been an enthusiastic volunteer docent guide to visitors at the National Air and Space Museum of the Smithsonian Institution.

Mr. Webber, in addition to having authored countless articles and conference papers, has published three books which treat various aspects of space history and space futures: “The Wright Stuff: The Century of Effort Behind Your Ticket to Space”, “No Bucks, No Buck Rogers: Creating the Business of Commercial Space”, and “Afterglow: Reflections on the Golden Age of Moon Explorers”.  He has citations in “Who’s Who in Science and Engineering”, and “Who’s Who in the World”, was awarded a certificate of recognition for his contributions by the Space Tourism Society at its Orbit Awards event in 2006, and received an award for “contributions to space activity, and in particular private access to space” from the International Academy of Astronautics in 2011.