President’s bio

Snead webpage

James M. (Mike) Snead, PE

  • President and founder of the Spacefaring Institute
  • Author of the Spacefaring America blog


  • Air Force Institute of Technology, MS (Aerospace Engineering)
  • University of Cincinnati, BS (Aerospace Engineering)

Relevant training:

  • Defense Systems Management College, Advanced Program Management Course (in-residence)
  • Facilitator training: Joel Barker’s Implications Wheel (TM) / Strategy Matrix (TM) (“Trainer” training)

Professional activities:

  • Registered professional engineer (Aerospace; Ohio)
  • Associate Fellow, American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA)
  • Past chair and current member, Space Logistics Technical Committee, AIAA

Consulting activities:

  • Red Rhino LNG (ongoing)
  • Department of Defense National Security Space Office informal study on space solar power (2007)

Employment experience (primary responsibilities, starting with the most recent):

  • Current status: Aerospace engineering consultant/author focusing on:
    • Near-future space infrastructure development including ethical human spaceflight
    • Energy needs and sustainable energy solutions including space solar power (SSP)
    • Advanced subsonic multi-mission aircraft (tanker/airlifter/air power platform)
    • Nuclear physics research (neutron applications)
  • United States Air Force (Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, OH) (1970-2007)
    • Lead, Agile Combat Support, Aeronautical Systems Branch, Air Systems Division, Plans and Programs Directorate, Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL/XPAS) (2004-2007)
      • Focused on innovative near-future capabilities for improved air and space agile combat support responsive to stated Air Force mission needs (Agile Combat Support Concept of Operations [CONOPS], Global Mobility CONOPS, Operationally Responsive Spacelift Mission Need Statement). See below for relevant publications.
      • Developed the second version of the Configurable Air Transport (CAT) concept (See YouTube video)
      • Provided requested study of near-future integrated space infrastructure capabilities to the National Security Space Organization’s Architecture Division
    • Modeling and Analysis Division, Plans and Programs Directorate, Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL/XPZ) (1998-2004)
      • Created, initiated and managed the first Air Force Technology Seminar Game (TSG): a futures wargaming activity providing support to AF/XP with a catalog of technology-enabled future warfighting concepts tailored to the new and evolving warfighting challenges of the 2015-2025 time period. The first AF TSG was conducted in 2000-2001, involved approximately 100 technical and operation experts from across the services and industry. The AF TSG was overseen by a senior steering group led by the Air Force Chief Scientist. The principle product was a catalog of 60+ concepts for use in developing “toolboxes” of concepts to play in futures wargames.
      • Initiated concept development for an integrated near-future space infrastructure providing:
        • Assured space access using near-term, fully-reusable space access systems
        • In-space logistics support facilities and services
        • In-space mobility for passengers and cargo transport throughout the Earth-Moon system
      • Updated the CAT concept
    • Directorate of Science & Technology, HQ Air Force Materiel Command (HQ AFMC/ST) (1992-1998)
      • Provided staff oversight/review of Air Force science and technology (S&T) 6.2 and 6.3 research programs related to space technology
      • Technical consultant to the Ballistic Missile Defense Organization’s (BMDO) Delta Clipper (DC-X) single-stage rocket technology program demonstration flight vehicle
      • Participant in the NASA X-33 Phase I source selection in the areas of materials and structures
      • Supported AFMC futures wargaming activities
        • Invited participant to the first and second series of Office of the Secretary of Defense’s Office of Net Assessment space wargames
        • Organized AFMC participation in the Joint Air Force Space Command – AFMC Military Spaceplane Integrated Concept Team
          • Deputy chair, Systems and Technology Panel, that provided all AFMC HQ, product center, and laboratory inputs to the team
          • A principal author of the Military Spaceplane Systems Requirements Document with focus on systems integrity and performance
      • Developed the first version of the CAT concept; presented to a technology review panel of the Air Force Scientific Advisory Board
    • Lead Structures Engineer, Structures Division, Deputy for Engineering, Aeronautical Systems Division (ASD/ENFS) (1989-1992)
      • Editor for the update to the Air Force Structures “MIL-PRIME” guidance specification used for all Air Force aircraft development programs
        • Led the incorporation of lessons-learned from the National Aerospace Plane into this specification in order to directly address the unique systems engineering structures design requirements for reusable space access systems
      • Name-requested consultant to the BMDO Delta Clipper (DC-X) single-stage rocket technology program
        • Provided structures/materials support from the beginning of flight vehicle design through the initial flight test program
        • Member of the DC-X flight readiness review team
      • Lead structures engineer on the first flight Executive Independent Review Team for the YF-22 and YF-23 Advanced Tactical Fighter (ATF) demonstration aircraft — what became the F-22 fighter
        • Lead structures engineer on the independent cost analysis team for the ATF development source selection
      • Chair, ASD/EN Total Quality Management Team
    • Chief Flight Systems Engineer (Phase I) / Lead Structures Engineer (Phase II), Systems Engineering, National Aerospace Plane Joint Program Office (NASP JPO/EN) (1986-1989)
      • Managed collocated team of ASD/EN engineers during the Phase I concept evaluations and early Phase II technology development
        • Primary focus was on establishing systems engineering requirements appropriate for the NASP fully-reusable space access system configurations
        • Initiated and ran a year-long, in-house conceptual design team evaluating an air collection and enrichment, combined air-breathing and rocket propulsion system as an alternative to the baseline multi-mode airbreathing system for the NASP
    • Project Engineer, Transatmospheric Vehicle (TAV) Project Office, Deputy for Development Planning, Aeronautical Systems Division (ASD/XR) (1984-1986)
      • Sole collocated ASD/EN engineer
      • Reported directly to the ASD/EN Technical Director for the TAV project and pre-NASP program activities
      • Responsible for engineering and laboratory support for TAV concept and mission application analyses
      • Organized, established the criteria for, led, and reported results of the TAV technology readiness evaluation to the ASD Commander
      • Responsible for organizing and running the “business aspects” of the NASP Phase I Source Selection (airframe and engine contractors)
      • Authored significant sections of the specific technology development tasks in the NASP Phase I Statement of Work
    • Strength Branch, Structures Division, Deputy for Engineering, Aeronautical Systems Division (ASD/ENFSS) (1974-1984)
      • Provided engineering support for: F-4, F-5, T-38, B1-A crew module, F-15, F-16, C-141 (direct design and analysis support of test modifications), TR-1 (first flight Executive Independent Review Team), Pave Low III rescue helicopter prototype design and fabrication (direct design/analysis support), Big Safari, Pave Penny, F-4 and F-111 Pave Tack target designation pod installation (direct design, analysis, and ground and flight test support), LANTIRN target/navigation pods, ECM pods, first Advanced Cruise Missile concept source selection, first Advanced Tactical Fighter concept selection, ACES II ejection seat, E-4, and AWACS
    • Aerospace engineering “co-op” student (1970-1973)

Awards and Recognition:

  • Outstanding Achievement for Excellence in Research, Air Force Institute of Technology
  • Outstanding Achievement for Excellence in Academics, Air Force Institute of Technology
  • Outstanding Achievement for Scoring the Highest Grade in the Professional Engineering Examination, Aeronautical/Aerospace Section, The Ohio Society of Professional Engineers
  • Distinguished graduate, Advanced Program Management Course, Defense Systems Management College
  • Best Paper, “Achieving Mastery of Space Operations by Transforming Space Logistics,” Logistics Spectrum, Journal of the International Society of Logistics, 2005

Key publications (See the resources pages for a complete list):

Past Organizational activities:

  • Reorganized the AIAA Space Logistics Technical Committee (2003-2004)
  • Co-founder “Creativity 80’s”
  • Co-founder Miami Valley Alternate Energy Association (1974-1980)