Criswell, Dr. David R. - Director, Institute of Space System

by David R. Criswell with

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Dr. David R. Criswell has been writing articles and papers on the use of extraterrestrial materials for commercial useage, and space settlements since 1979. His recent article in the April/May 2002 issue of The Industrial Physicist: "Solar Power via the Moon," is the continuation of many years of dedicated service to the development of space resources for developing Third World Countries, and developing a source of safe, efficient, and cost effective energy for future generations of Earth's inhabitants. Dr. Criswell's patents, articles, and publications will be found at the end of this biography and resume. Dr. Criswell may be contacted through this address Dr. David R. Criswell. For more information on the ISSO, please visit Institute for Space Systems. Operations.

Dr. Criswell received his Ph.D. (1968) from Rice University in the Department of Space Physics and Astronomy. His graduate research at Rice University included experimental work on auroral photometry and particle detection using rockets and satellites. His degree was based on theoretical analyses of magnetospheric plasma waves and the comparison of the predictions to extensive ground based observations of low frequency micropulsations. He joined the technical staff of TRW Inc. - Houston Operations in 1968 and pursued a wide range of projects in support to the Apollo program. At TRW he formulated a program to deploy a fleet of small scientific satellites from the Apollo S-IVBs during Apollo missions.

In 1970 Dr. Criswell became a visiting scientist at the new Lunar Science Institute adjacent to the NASA-Johnson Space Center. In mid 1970 he became a member of its staff and thereafter a senior staff scientist at the renamed Lunar ? Planetary Institute (LPI). He conducted research on moon-solar wind interactions, dynamics of the soil regolith, lunar surface seismology, and related topics under Institute, NASA, and private funding. Dr. Criswell directed the only post-Apollo study funded by NASA during the 1970s on the conversion of lunar resources into basic industrial materials. In addition, he directed many Institute functions such as local and international scientific conferences and study groups, edited major proceedings and special journal issues, and operated the Lunar and Planetary Review Panel that reviewed over 3,000 research proposals submitted to NASA in the 1970s. He was the Program Director of the Universities Space Research Association for the review of the first 900 proposals submitted to NASA for flight on the space shuttle and in the first two Spacelabs.

In 1980 Dr. Criswell accepted a research position with the newly formed California Space Institute (Cal Space) headquartered at the University of California, San Diego. He participated in formulation of local and statewide Cal Space research programs and acquired NASA and private funds for the development of systems to process lunar materials. He directed high-level program reviews for NASA and the congressional Office of Technology Assessment.

From 1982 to 1990 Dr. Criswell was an aerospace consultant. His clients included 11 corporations, Los Alamos National Laboratory, the National Research Council, Universities Space Research Association, and fourteen universities, NASA, and the Office of Technology Assessment. He also organized and participated in reviews of advanced research programs at the Institute of Geophysics and Planetary Physics at Los Alamos National Laboratory and provided similar assistance to the Illinois Space Institute. He directed the Cal Space Automation and Robotics Panel (ARP, 1984-88) that conducted an independent evaluation of the use of advanced automation and robotics (A&R) within the NASA space station program. The Cal Space report, Automation and Robotics for the National Space Program, constituted the basis of the official report to Congress by the NASA Advanced Technology Advisory Committee (ATAC). Dr. Criswell was the primary developer and Director of the Consortium for Space/Terrestrial Automation and Robotics of USRA. Dr. Criswell organized and wrote the proposal under which the University of California won the National Space Grant College and Fellowship program in California in 1989 and operated the program for the first year. In 1990 Dr. Criswell returned to Texas.


Doctor of Philosophy (1968)
Space Physics and Astronomy, Rice University, Houston, Texas.
Master of Science (1964) and Bachelor of Science (1963-cum laude)
Physics, University of North Texas, Denton, Texas.
Current Positions:
Institute for Space Systems Operations:

Dr. Criswell directs the Institute of Space Systems Operations (ISSO) of the University of Houston. ISSO is the operational agent for the Houston Partnership for Space Exploration that was established by the Legislature of the State of Texas in 1991 and funds the Partnership under a State Line Item. ISSO works primarily through the University of Houston (UH) and the University of Houston at Clear Lake (UHCL). ISSO directs its programs so as to leverage the funds it receives from the State of Texas. ISSO is active in ten general areas.

The joint UH/UHCL-NASA JSC Post-Doctoral Aerospace Fellowship program is the major ISSO activity. In this program UH/UHCL fellows conduct projects at JSC under the direction of UH-JSC and UHCL-JSC teams of researchers. By this means the fellows bring state–of–the–art knowledge to selected projects at JSC and link the advanced aerospace activities at JSC directly to the university. Fellowships are funded in cooperation with the UH Colleges of Engineering, Natural Science and Mathematics, Pharmacy, Optometry, and the Hilton College of Hotel and Restaurant Management, the Space Vacuum Epitaxi Center, and the Texas Center for Superconductivity. The UHCL College of Natural and Applied Sciences and the Environmental Institute of Houston (UHCL/UH) supported four of the 15 projects from 1995-1998 and 17 projects starting in 1999. The Fellowship program can be viewed on the web at

ISSO also funds UH and UHCL professors to conduct seed-level research that permits the faculty to make more competitive proposals to funding agencies outside the University. ISSO promotes the development of graduate and post-doctoral research with the NASA-Johnson Space Center under cooperative research agreements. Both masters and doctoral candidates have completed the bulk of their graduate degree research activities within the laboratories of NASA-JSC. ISSO organizes and leads faculty to respond to requests for proposals and for unsolicited proposals. Dr. Criswell pursues ISSO research in the field of space and lunar industrialization. He is also active on the Power from Space Committee of the International Astronautics Federation. ISSO funds produced more than a six to one return on State funds. Under ISSO funds UHCL has expanded and deepened its aerospace related courses. ISSO organizes aerospace seminars and participates with technical organizations in the NASA-JSC area, such as the American Inst. of Aeronautics and Astronautics and the National Council of Systems Engineering, to promote professional development opportunities.

Texas Space Grant Consortium:

The University of Houston, along with the University of Texas at Austin and the Texas A&M University, is a charter member of the Texas Space Grant Consortium. Dr. Criswell is an Associate Director of the TSGC and on the Board of Directors of TSGC. He is the director of research for TSGC and works with faculty of TSGC member universities to develop proposals for cooperative research programs. In 1992 Dr. Criswell lead a review of the National Space Grant program that was jointly funded by NASA and the various Space Grant Consortia. This review as conducted at the Study Center of the National Academy of Sciences in Woods Hole, Massachusetts. The Woods Hole study produced the report Mission to America.