Mission Manager, Jet Propulsion Laboratory
Al Nakata has actively participated with a wide variety of space missions for over 45 years. He initially supported the Skylab and Mariner Venus Mercury proposals as a member of the mission design and advanced projects at the Martin Company in Denver, Colorado.
He has been a JPL employee since 1971 as a mission and trajectory designer and a member of the following space missions: Viking Orbiters 1 and 2, Voyager 1 and 2, designing candidate comet and asteroid missions for the 1990s and early 2000, and the Mission Design Manager of the Talon Gold Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI) DARPA program.
As a Mission Operation Systems Engineer, he was a member of the following missions: Magellan Flight Team that successfully mapped the surface of Venus, Mars Pathfinder, Cassini, Mars Odyssey, Mars Exploration Rover (MER), Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO), and Deep Impact.
Currently the Mission Design Manager of the Stardust-NExT and the EPOXI comet exploration missions.
He received his B.S. and M.S. degrees in Aerospace Engineering from the University of Colorado in Boulder, Colorado. He was born in Brighton, Colorado. He has received a NASA Public Service Medal for his work on the Magellan program, Mars Pathfinder and several NASA Group Achievement awards.