Dr. Mark Hilburger

NASA Principal Technologist for Structures and Materials

Dr. Mark W. Hilburger was appointed Space Technology Mission Directorate (STMD) Principal Technologist (PT) for Structures, Materials, and Construction at NASA HQ in 2019. His roles and responsibilities include identifying technology needs and developing technology investment plans across his assigned discipline areas in coordination with NASA Exploration Programs and Mission Directorates. He is currently focused on developing capabilities for the autonomous excavation, construction, and outfitting of lunar infrastructure, and includes investments across the entire TRL pipeline, and in collaboration with US industry, academia, and OGA. Specific emphasis on early lunar infrastructure and technology demonstrations that will lead to a permanent lunar presence and robust industry-led economy.

Dr. Hilburger has over 25 years of experience in the field of structural mechanics and materials and specializes in the development and implementation of High-Fidelity Structural Analysis and Design Technology, Advanced Experimental Methods, and Design Criteria for Aerospace Structures.  He has been presented with numerous awards and including the 2018 Middle Career Stellar Award presented by The Rotary National Award for Space Achievement; the NASA Exceptional Engineering Achievement Medal, 2010; selected as one of the nation’s top 100 young engineers and scientist by the National Academy of Engineering, 2009; and the NASA Silver Snoopy Award, (Astronauts’ Personal Achievement Award), 2006. He received his M.S.E. and Ph.D. in Aerospace Engineering from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, MI in 1995 and 1998, respectively, and his B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from Rutgers University in New Brunswick, NJ in 1993.

Hilburger headshot picture


Dr. Bonnie Dunbar

Non-resident Fellow, Baker Institute Space Policy Program
Professor, Texas A&M University

Professor Bonnie J. Dunbar, PhD NAE holds the John and Bea Slattery Chair in Aerospace Engineering at Texas A&M University where she directs the Aerospace Human Systems Laboratory (AHSL). She is also a retired NASA astronaut, having flown five prior missions on the Space Shuttle, two of them to the Russian Space Station, MIR. Dunbar previously was a Professor in the Mechanical Engineering Department at the University of Houston where she oversaw the growth of the MS program in Aerospace, and was Director of the SICSA program in Space Architecture. She also provided leadership in the development of a new science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) center. Dr. Dunbar worked for NASA for 27 years as a flight controller and a mission specialist astronaut and then served for seven years as a member of the NASA Senior Executive Service. She was the Johnson Space Center assistant director for university research, deputy director for flight crew operations, associate director for International Space Station mission operations development, and the first NASA headquarters deputy associate administrator for the Office of Life and Microgravity Sciences and Applications (OLMSA). Prior to joining NASA, Dunbar worked for the Rockwell International Space Division Company building Space Shuttle Columbia. After retiring from NASA, Dunbar became president and CEO of the Museum of Flight in Seattle, developing a new Space Gallery and growing their STEM programs. Dunbar has been awarded the NASA Space Flight Medal five times, the NASA Exceptional Leadership Medal and the NASA Distinguished Service Medal. She is a Fellow of the AIAA, ACerS and Royal Aeronautical Society. She was also elected into the Royal Society of Edinburgh, as well as the National Academy of Engineering. In 2020, she was awarded the national Sigma Xi McGovern Science and Society Medal. Dunbar holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in ceramic engineering from the University of Washington and a Ph.D. in mechanical and biomedical engineering from the University of Houston. Dr. Dunbar is a nonresident fellow with Rice University’s Baker Institute Space Policy Program.


Dr. Peter Weiss

Founder and CEO of SPARTAN SPACE

Peter has more than 20 years of experience in the management of industrial and research projects in the maritime and space sector. He is the Founder and CEO of SPARTAN-SPACE, a start-up company specializing on the development of underwater and space habitats and platforms.  SPARTAN SPACE is involved in the development of the European modules for the GATEWAY and develops, under CNES contract, a concept of a secondary habitat for the lunar surface (EUROHAB). SPARTAN SPACE is part of the selection of start-ups in the TECHNTHEMOON initiative by CNES. The start-up company is also involved in several underwater habitat developments.

During his career he tries to combine his passion for space and the oceans.

Peter worked at the DLR in Oberpfaffenhofen, Germany, on a motor drive of a lightweight robot arm, at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Boston, USA, on the development of artificial muscles for self-transforming robotic planetary explorers, at Cybernetix in Marseille, France, as Project Manager for European Commission on underwater robotics and AUV, at the Hong Kong Polytechnic University on a robotic microgravity sampling device for the PHOBOS-GRUNT mission and for over ten years as Director of the Space Department and Company Board member of COMEX in Marseille, France in underwater space simulations and astronaut training. He was Co-Founder and President until 2016 of POWERSEA, a start-up company for the development of connectors for marine renewables.

Peter was awarded in the APOPHIS MISSION DESIGN COMPETITION, organized by NASA, ESA and the PLANETARY SOCIETY. He received the French Medal of Internal Security for the intervention and psychological support of the families of the Germanwings airplane crash in 2015 (as member of the French Red Cross), the OCEANS X SPACE Business Applications Competition prize by European Space Agency in 2018 and a special mention by the Concours Jacques Rougerie International Architecture and Arts prizes in 2020 for the EUROHAB concept.