an Explore Mars Event

May 17-19, 2022

The George Washington University

Washington D.C.


Robert Howard, Ph.D.

NASA | Habitability Domain Lead, Co-Lead Center for Design and Space Architecture

Dr. Robert Howard is the Habitability Domain Lead in the Habitability and Human Factors Branch and the Co-Lead of the Center for Design and Space Architecture at Johnson Space Center in Houston, TX.  He leads a team of architects, industrial designers, engineers and usability experts to develop and evaluate concepts for spacecraft cabin and cockpit configurations.  He has served on design and test teams for several NASA spacecraft teams including the Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle, Orion Capsule Parachute Assembly Team, Altair Lunar Lander, Deep Space Habitat, Waypoint Spacecraft, Exploration Augmentation Module, Asteroid Retrieval Utilization Mission, Habitable Airlock, Habitable Airlock, Small Pressurized Rover, Multi-Mission Space Exploration Vehicle, Gateway, and Human Landing System, as well as Phobos and Deimos mission study teams.  Currently, Dr. Howard is a member of the Lunar Surface Systems team and the Mars Integration Group and is the architecture and human factors lead for the outfitting and habitability testing of the 20 Foot Vacuum Chamber for the Exploration Atmospheres study.

Dr. Howard holds a Bachelor of Science in General Science from Morehouse College, a Bachelor of Aerospace Engineering from Georgia Tech, a Master of Science in Industrial Engineering with a focus in Human Factors from North Carolina A&T State University, and a Ph.D. in Aerospace Engineering with a focus in Spacecraft Engineering from the University of Tennessee Space Institute.  His Master’s Thesis was, “An Expert Systems Approach to Spacecraft Cabin Design” and his Doctoral Dissertation was, “Formation of a Cislunar Human Transportation Architecture Through the Use of Analytic, Heuristic, and Parametric Algorithms.”  He also received a Certificate in Human Systems Integration from the Naval Postgraduate School in 2011 and completed the Space Systems Engineering Development Program in 2014 at Johnson Space Center.

He has received numerous awards from NASA and community organizations, including the NASA Exceptional Service Medal, NASA Superior Accomplishment Award, numerous NASA Group Achievement Awards, the Benjamin Banneker Legacy Award, The Network Journal’s 40 Under 40 Achievement Award, and more.  He has authored or co-authored more than seventy human spaceflight technical papers, which he has presented at scientific and engineering conferences across the country.

Dr. Howard was born in Xenia, Ohio, but grew up primarily in Greensboro, North Carolina.  He also lived briefly in Tallahassee, Florida and Camp Springs, Maryland.