Surendra P. Sharma

Title: Technical Manager, Technology Advocate and Advisor, Scientist
Company: NASA Ames Research Center
Location: Cupertino, California, United States

Surendra P. Sharma, Advisor and Advocate of Space Exploration Technology at the NASA Ames Research Center, has been recognized by Marquis Who’s Who Top Scientists for dedication, achievements, and leadership in aeronautics, astronautics and theoretical science.

Inspired by science at a very early age, Dr. Sharma recalls he held a deep liking for mathematics and his goal was to receive the highest degree he could attain. He went on to earn a Bachelor of Science from the University of Gorakhpur in India in 1962, as well as a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering and a Master of Science in Mechanical Engineering from Peoples’ Friendship University of Russia in 1968.  In the early years of his career, Dr. Sharma gained experience as a scientist in the Council of Science and Industrial Research from 1968 to 1970 and as a lecturer in the Department of Aeronautics at the Indian Institute of Technology from 1970 to 1971.

Upon beginning his studies at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Dr. Sharma found his passion for aeronautics and astronautics. In 1978, he obtained a Doctor of Philosophy in physics of fluids, aeronautics and astronautics, having also completed six years of work as a research assistant to the institution. From there, Dr. Sharma was an adjunct research professor of aeronautics at the Naval Postgraduate School in 1979 and a research engineer at the University of Tennessee Space Institute from 1979 to 1981. He had also served as a senior engineer at Brown & Root, Inc. and Sii Drilco, Smith International between 1981 and 1985.

With the backing of his academic background, Dr. Sharma’s contributions to aerospace sciences include: 1) fundamental research in aerospace sciences (study of thermochemical nonequilibrium processes behind strong shock waves, thermochemical relaxation in expanding (base & wake) flows, nano-technology, magnetohydrodynamics, analysis of nuclear reactors and multi-phase flows, among others), 2) technology program management, such as managing $37 million Exploration Technology Development Program (ETDP) at NASA Ames, and 3) functioning as a Liaison and Senior Technology Advocate & Advisor to NASA HQ’s Advanced Exploration Systems. His landmark contributions have led to a much clearer understanding of the fundamental phenomena behind these processes and resulted in improved heatshield design tools (NEQAIR), flow computation models (NOZNT) among others. At the same time, they have extended the simulation velocity range in shock tubes.

Since 1986, Dr. Sharma has continued to excel in his role as an advisor and advocate of space exploration technology with the NASA Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, California, and remains an eminent individual in the development of technologies that will enable sustained human presence in Cis-lunar space and beyond. Proud to be making an impact for future generations, he has also been an associate fellow and chair of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics Space Exploration Integration Committee since 2008.

Since 2019, Dr. Sharma has served as the Space Technology Directorate at NASA Ames Research Center, as well as the Space Technology Development Advisor and Business Development Manager. In these roles, he is responsible for providing program management support to HEOMD/ Advanced Exploration Systems Division, STMD/Game Changing Development Program, and OCT at NASA HQ. This includes interfacing with appropriate program and project leadership at NASA HQ and appropriate NASA Field Centers. This includes interfacing with appropriate program and project leadership. From 2010 to 2019, he served in similar roles, serving as the Space Technology Directorate at the NASA Ames Research Center, and as the Space Technology Development Advisor and Business Development Manager.

Among Dr. Sharma’s myriad achievements include an abundance of technical developments, advancements and contributions. He resurrected the dormant electric arc-driven shock tube facility (E.A.S.T.) and transformed it into a world-class test facility capable of producing spectroscopically clean test gas simulating speeds up to 15 km/sec. Furthermore, he conceived, planned and established the Plasma Research Laboratory equipped with multitudes of plasma diagnostics and simulation capabilities in support of the Nano-Technology Initiative at the center. With a vision to find complete engineering solutions as well as to study the basic individual processes established a gaseous electronics conference (GEC) cell (engineering solution) and a crossed-beam experimental setup (basic physics). The Advanced Exploration System (AES) management took note of his advocacy for the application of quantum computing to solve complex optimization problems, acoustic methods to measure the volume of propellant in a tank in microgravity, and physics-based modeling. Furthermore, he has published over 125 articles and numerous presentations and has been invited to speak at national and international conferences. Among his many articles, some of his standout works include his early landmark publication, “A Survey of Simulation and Diagnostic Techniques for Hypersonic Nonequilibrium Flows,” JTHT, 1990, which was identified by the AIAA in an unprecedented and out-of-the-ordinary action as a distinguished contribution to the community. It was used extensively at the AVCO Everret Laboratories and identified by R. Neumann, AFWAL, as pioneering work.

Notably, Dr. Sharma has been the recipient of numerous awards from NASA and the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics. Since 2008, he has served as the Chair of the AIAA Space Exploration Integration Committee (shared with Dr. Chris Moore, AES, HEOMD, NASA, HQ). The SEIC serves as the focal point for promoting awareness and advancement of space exploration, both in the national and international community. He attributes his success to his passion, along with being in the right place at the right time. To remain abreast of his industry, Dr. Sharma maintains affiliation with the Society of Petroleum Engineers, Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers and Massachusetts Institute of Technology Chapter of Sigma Xi.

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NASA Ames at the 2018 American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics Forum

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