Principal Technologist: Michelle Munk

Principal Technologist for Entry, Descent and Landing
Space Technology Mission Directorate

757-864-2314 (o)
757-876-7761 (c)



B.S., Aerospace Engineering, Virginia Tech (1991)

Mrs. Munk possesses broad experience in orbital mechanics, planetary exploration, and technology development from three different NASA centers over her 25-year career. She began as a cooperative education student at Johnson Space Center, and over the next 10 years (1988-1998) supported multiple human exploration concept studies; robotic entry, descent and landing (EDL) concepts; and developed International Space Station hardware. At Langley Research Center (1998-2002), Mrs. Munk developed EDL simulations, supported Mars Odyssey aerobraking operations, and coordinated Agency-wide EDL technology planning efforts. Mrs. Munk served five years (2002-2007) at Marshall Space Flight Center as the Lead Engineer, and later the Project Manager, for the In-Space Propulsion Aerocapture Project within NASA’s Science Mission Directorate. Most recently back at Langley Research Center (2007-present), she has continued to lead and review numerous technology development planning and human architecture efforts, and was a subsystem lead and the Deputy Project Manager for the Mars Science Laboratory Entry, Descent and Landing Instrumentation (MEDLI) flight payload. Mrs. Munk is a Senior Member of AIAA, a member of the International Organizing Committee for the International Planetary Probe Workshop, and an avid outreach participant. She received the NASA Exceptional Service Medal in 2011, and has received multiple NASA Superior Achievement, Group Achievement, and Center Director Awards.

Current Interests:
Mrs. Munk’s technical areas of interest are in EDL technologies that enable new high-priority scientific exploration missions; safer, more capable human exploration vehicles; and eventual humans-to-Mars capability. These developments will require strong computational analysis and testing capabilities, as well as the acquisition of engineering flight data during relevant entry missions.