Mark James

Mark James
Staff Assistant
Stanford University
Stanford, California
Aeronautics and Astronautics

When I was ten years old, my class read the book “October Sky” by West Virginian author Homer Hickam. From that point on, I knew that I wanted to be an astronaut for NASA.

My undergraduate education was spent at West Virginia University where I obtained bachelor’s degrees in both aerospace and mechanical engineering. During my studies, I was fortunate enough to be selected as a member of WVU’s Microgravity Research Team (MRT). This student-led research group develops, proposes, designs, and constructs an experiment to be flown aboard NASA’s Zero-G “Weightless Wonder” research aircraft. I learned much in my two years with this program as our team developed and built experiments on magnetically controlling fluid slosh and electromagnetically enhancing a fluidized bed in microgravity.

Between my times on the MRT, I decided to expand my horizons and study abroad in the beautiful country of New Zealand. I spent five months at Auckland’s Massey University studying mechanical engineering and spending weekends and breaks exploring the breathtaking North and South Islands.

This combination of a love of NASA research and traveling inspired me to apply to the NASA Academy system. As a participant in the 2012 NASA Ames Academy, I had the opportunity to work on the Guidance, Navigation, and Control (GN&C) subsystem of NASA’s Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer (LADEE). Mentored by Mr. Michael McIntyre and Dr. Butler Hine, I worked on the characterization of the coarse sun sensor suite of the LADEE three-degree of freedom (3-DOF) model.

After staffing the 2013 Academy this summer, I look forward to attending Stanford University for an M.S. in Aeronautics and Astronautics.


In my spare time, I enjoy traveling, reading, and playing a variety of sports. I mainly focused on track and cross country in high school, but I recently have become interested in basketball, football, and disc golf. I am a huge fan of WVU athletics, and I strive to attend as many events as I can.