Director of the Mars Exploration Program
Mr. Watzin has extensive experience in robotic spaceflight mission development for NASA and the Department of Defense, spanning a career with multiple leadership roles in program management, project management, and systems engineering. He is currently the Director of the Mars Exploration Program at NASA. Previously, he served as the Deputy Program Executive for C4ISR at the Missile Defense Agency (MDA), having responsibilities for radar, space, and airborne sensor development. In this role he was considered the Agency’s senior executive for space. In 2009-2014, he initiated and ran a start-up company, X-Energy, pioneering a novel approach for small, intrinsically safe, modular nuclear reactors. Before that, Mr. Watzin served NASA at Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC) in concurrent roles as the Associate Director of Flight Projects for the Explorers Program, the Living with a Star Program, the Solar Terrestrial Probes Program, and the Planetary Science Projects Division. There he was responsible for the development and execution of orbital and landed planetary instruments, spacecraft, and missions managed in support of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate – overseeing a diverse portfolio of multiple projects executed within many different venues. Earlier in his career he led the systems engineering for NASA’s Telerobotic Servicer Project and NASA’s Small Explorer Program, and later took on leadership for multiple GSFC flight projects as project manager. Mr. Watzin was appointed to the Senior Executive Service in 1999.