Mr. Mankins' 25-year career at NASA Headquarters and Caltech-operated NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) ranged from flight projects and space mission operations, to systems-level innovation and R&D management. He organized and managed the Exploration Systems Research and Technology program (c. 2005) and managed NASA SSP programs from 1995-2003 and was PI for a NIAC investigation of a novel solar power satellite (SPS) concept that he invented: SPS-ALPHA (SPS by means of Arbitrarily Large Phased Array). From 2016-2021 he organized annually an SSP student competition sponsored by SPACE Canada.
He is well-known as an R&D management innovator. Building on 1970s-era NASA concepts of 'technology readiness’ for, he extended the scale in the late 1980s and wrote the detailed definitions of TRLs and promoted TRL use by the US DoD in the 1990s, and participated in development of a TRL ISO standard. He also created the concept of integrated Technology Readiness and Risk Assessment, including the ‘Research & Development Degree of Difficulty’ (R&D3) and Technology Need Value (TNV).
Mankins holds undergraduate (HMC) and graduate (UCLA) degrees in Physics and an MBA in Public Policy Analysis (The Drucker School). He is a member of the International Academy of Astronautics, chair of the IAA Permanent Committee on SSP, of and the IAF Power Committee. He is a member of the National Space Society, the AIAA and Sigma Xi.
Mr. Mankins has received numerous honors during his career, including the prestigious NASA Exceptional Technology Achievement Medal. He has published more than 100 technical papers and two books “The First International Assessment of Space Solar Power” (2011) and “The Case for Space Solar Power” (2014). Mankins lives on a Ranch on the California Central Coast.