Skip to content

September 12, 2023: Space Diplomacy Lab Launches Space Economy Series

 Space Economics 390 (Dr. Zanalda, Dept of Economics) and the Space Diplomacy Lab (SDL) are hosting a virtual conversation with David L. Pierce, director of NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility on Tuesday, September 12th from 3:30-4:45 pm.  We will be discussing the burgeoning commercial space industry and NASA’s role in facilitating the expansion of the commercial space economy both within the U.S. and globally. 

 Wallops, located on Virginia’s Eastern Shore, provides agile, low-cost flight and launch range services to meet government and commercial sector needs for accessing flight regimes worldwide from the Earth’s surface to the Moon and beyond. The facility’s flight assets range from research aircraft, unmanned aerial systems and high-altitude balloons to suborbital and orbital rockets.  

 Wallops is also one of just four major launch ranges in the United Sates supporting multiple customers with suborbital and orbital launch range services. With the growth of commercial space, Wallops is poised to increase its launch cadence to up to 50+ launches per year by 2030. To meet this need, NASA is working to be as agile as industry when it comes to cost and responsiveness. 

About the Speaker 

David L. Pierce is the director of NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility, a multi-user/multi-tenant facility supporting satellite tracking and commanding, military operations and training, scientific investigations, technology development and testing, as well as commercial aerospace. 

David Pierce has over 32 years of project/program management experience at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC). As the director of NASA GSFC’s Wallops Flight Facility (WFF), Pierce is responsible for leading suborbital and launch range services to meet government and commercial sector needs for accessing flight regimes worldwide from the Earth’s surface to the moon and beyond. 

Previously, Mr. Pierce served as deputy director for Institutions, Programs, and Business Management in the Science and Exploration Directorate (SED) at GSFC (2016 to 2018), where he oversaw SED’s institutional, new business, technology, and business management functions. Between 2011 and 2016, he served as the senior Program Executive for Suborbital Research in NASA’s Science Mission Directorate (SMD) at NASA Headquarters (HQ), overseeing implementation of SMD’s Suborbital Program, a broad portfolio of aircraft, scientific balloons, sounding rockets, and CubeSat research missions. He served as the WFF Deputy Director from 2012 to 2014, assisting the Director in the management of the directorate and its project/program elements. 

From 2004-2011, Pierce served as NASA’s Balloon Program Office chief where he was responsible for overseeing the safe implementation of the balloon program, as well as the Columbia Scientific Balloon Facility (CSBF), located in Palestine, Texas. Pierce also served as Mission Manager within the Explorers Program from 1998 to 2004, managing the University-class Explorer (UNEX) and Small Explorer (SMEX) missions. He started at NASA working as an aerospace engineer in the GSFC/WFF Aircraft Programs Branch, modifying research aircraft to meet airborne science community needs and serving as mission manager on airborne science field campaigns. 

Mr. Pierce earned his Bachelor’s degree in aerospace engineering from North Carolina State University in 1986, and his Master’s degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Virginia in 1994. He has received individual and group achievement awards throughout his career, and was awarded NASA’s Exceptional Service and Exceptional Achievement Medals. 

Special thanks to Jeremy Eggers, Associate Chief, Office of Communications, for NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center for facilitating this event.