Dr. Kenneth H. Wright, Jr.

Dr. Kenneth H. Wright, Jr.

Manager, Space Sciences Group

Email:  KWright @ usra.edu

My scientific research interest is the interaction of objects (planets, moons, spacecraft, etc.) with space environments (plasma, UV, radiation, etc.).  I have pursued this research in both ground-based experiments and small and large space-flight missions.   My roles and responsibilities have spanned a wide range of activities that include project life cycles; system engineering and integration; hardware development, space environment testing, and certification; data analysis; and publication of technical results.

Space Flight Projects

  • Plasma Diagnostics Package (PDP) flown on Space Shuttle missions STS-3 (3/22/1982 – 3/30/1982) and Spacelab-2 (7/29/1985 - 8/6/1985)
  • Research on Orbital Plasma Electrodynamics (ROPE) experiment for both flights of the Tethered Satellite System (TSS-1: space shuttle mission STS-46 7/31/1992 - 8/8/1992; TSS-1R: space shuttle mission STS-75 2/22/1996 - 3/6/1996).
  • Plasma Experiment Satellite Test (PEST) payload for the Joint Air Force/Weber State Satellite (JAWSAT) launched Jan. 2000 aboard the first Air Force Minotaur rocket.
  • Propulsive Small Expendable Deployer System (ProSEDS). Secondary payload ready for launch on Delta-II denied in March 2003 for circumstances outside the ProSEDS project control.
  • Floating Potential Measurement Unit (FPMU) installed on the International Space Station in 2006.
  • Solar Wind Electrons, Alphas, and Protons ,(SWEAP) investigation for the NASA Parker Solar Probe (PSP) mission – launched on August 12, 2018.

Ground Based Experiments/Testing

  • Plasma wake studies with single and binary ion plasmas
  • Combined space environment testing of solar array coupons
  • Electrostatic disharge (ESD) testing of materials
  • Electric sail experiments (interaction of flowing plasma with positive bias wire)
  • Solar Probe Cup (SPC) testing for PSP mission: plasma testing for development model, qualification model, and flight model calibration. 

  • Plasma Instrument for Magnetic Sounding (PIMS) instrument for the Europa Clipper mission - plasma and thermal balance testing on pre-CDR development unit. 


B.S., Engineering Physics, University of Tennessee-Knoxville

M.S., Ph.D., Physics, University of Alabama in Huntsville