Dr. Kenneth H. Wright, Jr.

Dr. Kenneth H. Wright, Jr.

Manager, Space Sciences Group

Email:  KWright at 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

In the News

December 22, 2021
USRA Scientists and Engineers Contribute to NASA's Xray Polarimetry Explorer

NASA’s Imaging X-ray Polarimetry Explorer (IXPE) launched successfully on December 9, 2021 from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. It was a “picture perfect” launch, according to Principal Investigator Dr. Martin Weisskopf of the NASA/Marshall Space Flight Center, with the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket performing nominally and nature providing ideal weather conditions.

USRA Scientists and Engineers Contribute to NASA's Xray Polarimetry Explorer
August 17, 2021
Bringing Earth Data to Life

Ms. Tondapu's work featured in an article on the NASA Applied Sciences website.

Bringing Earth Data to Life
April 13, 2021
Pollution Studies during COVID-19 Lockdown

View the WIRED article discussing Dr. Gupta's year-long study for pollution in India during the COVID-19 lock down.

Pollution Studies during COVID-19 Lockdown
News Archive