Donald J. Kessler                    Phone: (828) 277 1948   cell phone: (828) 231 6614
25 Gardenwood Ln                    FAX:  (828) 277 1949
Asheville, NC 28803                Email:  djk1940 at

Employment History:

2005 - Present.  Retired, but active.   Advise various organizations and individuals on orbital debris issues.  Chairman of National Research Council’s Committee for the Assessment of NASA’s Orbital Debris Programs.  Consultant on and “guide” in the educational IMAX film Space Junk 3D.  Participated in two NASA Engineering and Safety Center (NESC) studies on safety issues   Served on the Inter-Agency Space Debris Coordination Committee (IADC) Steering Group.  Consultant to NASA Orbital Debris Program Office.  Keynote speaker at the 7th European Conference on Space Debris.


1996 - 2005.   Consultant to NASA through Lockheed on orbital debris models and to Prairie View A&M University on orbital debris course development.   Managing Editor for Kluwer Academic Publishers of Space Debris, an international journal.


1962 - 1996, NASA, Johnson Space Center
Over 30 years of experience in scientific research associated with orbital debris, meteoroids, and interplanetary dust, especially in relationship with developing mathematical models, deriving collision probabilities, using sampling techniques, and defining the space environment.

1990-1996.  As NASA's Senior Scientist for Orbital Debris Research, coordinated NASA's orbital debris research program.  Participated in national and international reviews of other agency's orbital debris programs.  Participated in establishing an international agency to address orbital debris issues (Inter-Agency Space Debris Coordination Committee).  Retired from NASA in 1996.

1979-1990.  Established orbital debris program.  Developed orbital debris models; recommended and developed experiments to test models; analyzed orbital debris data; conducted classes, workshops, and symposia on orbital debris; recommended cost effective techniques to control orbital debris.

1965-1979.  Modeled interplanetary meteoroid environment, flight control of Skylab experiments, atmospheric environment research.  Developed early orbital debris models and began establishing the need for an orbital debris program.

1962-1965.  Cooperative education student, University of Houston and NASA.


1958 - 1961.  US Army, Missile Defense Command, Sp 5.

Significant Accomplishments:  First to predict the presence of uncataloged orbital debris in sufficient quantity to exceed the meteoroid hazard to spacecraft; identified major debris sources; developed new modeling approaches; organized and conducted first national and international workshops on orbital debris; first to obtain and analyze data to measure uncataloged debris; predicted consequence of anti-satellite tests and participated in US Air Force and Strategic Defense Command tests and measurements program; participated in studies on Orbital Debris by the USAF Scientific Advisory Board, the AIAA, Interagency Group (Space), House of Representative Subcommittee, Office of Technology Assessment, National Research Council and GAO; responsible for the orbital debris environment used for Space Station design.  In 1990, appointed  NASA’s first Senior Scientist for Orbital Debris Research in the Solar System Exploration Division at JSC.

Education:  B.S. with Honors in Physics, University of Houston, 1965.

Publications:  Approximately 100 technical articles or extended abstracts on meteoroids and orbital debris; contributing author or editor of a number of major reports on orbital debris.

Membership:  Honorary Member of IAASS


Honors/Awards: AAS Dirk Brouwer Award, 2010; IAASS Jerome Lederer Space Safety Pioneer Award, 2008; AIAA Losey Atmospheric Sciences Award, 2000; NASA Medal for Exceptional Scientific Achievement, 1989; various NASA group achievement awards and superior performance awards.