Full Name
James Free
Job Title
Associate Administrator for Exploration Systems Development
Speaker Bio
Jim Free is the associate administrator for the Exploration Systems Development Mission Directorate (ESDMD) at NASA Headquarters in Washington, D.C. Free is responsible for the development of NASA’s Moon to Mars architecture, defining and managing the systems development for NASA’s Artemis missions and planning for NASA’s integrated deep space exploration approach.

Before his appointment to associate administrator in 2021, Free spent several years in various private sector roles. Free began his NASA career in 1990 at the Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, as a propulsion engineer and later as a systems engineer on several spacecraft. He served in numerous engineering positions with increasing responsibility at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston and the agency’s Glenn Research Center in Ohio, before being selected as Glenn’s deputy director and then serving as Glenn’s center director, where he was responsible for planning, organizing, and directing the activities required in accomplishing the missions assigned to the center. He left NASA in 2017 after serving as the agency’s deputy associate administrator for technical in the Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate.

A native of Northeast Ohio, Free earned his bachelor's degree in aeronautics from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, and his master's degree in space systems engineering from Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands.

Free is the recipient of the Presidential Rank Award, NASA Distinguished Service Medal, NASA Outstanding Leadership Medal, NASA Exceptional Service Medal, NASA Significant Achievement Medal, and numerous other awards.
James Free