Executive Director
Dr. Mark Whorton

Mark S. Whorton is the Executive Director of the University of Tennessee Space Institute (UTSI) in Tullahoma.  He is a Fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics where he also serves on the Council of Directors as Director–Technical, Space, and Missiles Group.

Whorton’s technical focus during his 30-year career has been dynamics and control of launch vehicles, spacecraft, and space structures.  Before coming to the University of Tennessee Space Institute he was President of Teledyne Optech, Inc. and also was the Chief Technologist at Teledyne Brown Engineering in Huntsville, Alabama. While at Teledyne he conceived and led the development of an earth imaging platform for the International Space Station which was launched and began testing in June of 2017. Prior to joining Teledyne in 2009, Whorton had a 20-year career with the NASA Marshall Space Flight Center where he managed the guidance, navigation, and mission analysis branch led multiple advanced flight technology projects and was a technical expert for crew launch vehicle guidance, navigation, and control systems.

Dr. Whorton received his Ph.D. in Aerospace Engineering from the George Institute of Technology and BS and MS degrees in Aerospace Engineering from the University of Alabama.

Associate Executive Director for Research
Dr. Edward Kraft

EDWARD M. ”ED”  KRAFT is the Associate Executive Director for Research at the University of Tennessee Space Institute.    He has over 48 years’ experience in testing and evaluation in industry and the government. He recently retired as a Senior Leader in the Air Force as the Technical Advisor for ground testing in the AF Test Center where he was the top technical expert in the testing of hardware in aerodynamic, propulsion and space ground test facilities that simulate flight conditions. He is a leader in the innovative integration of high-performance computing with ground and flight testing to improve defense acquisition and one of the early advocates for the CREATE high-fidelity physics-based modeling program.  He is one of the initiators and principal architects for the Air Force Digital Thread/Digital Twin initiative and a strong advocate for the applications of Uncertainty Quantification in developing the digital authoritative truth source in support of decision making.   He is a distinguished alumnus of both the University of Cincinnati and the University of Tennessee Space Institute, where he received his degrees in aerospace engineering. He is a fellow of the American Institute of Astronautics and Aeronautics and an Arnold Engineering Development Complex fellow.


Associate Executive Director of Academic

Dr. James Simonton

Dr. Simonton is the Associate Executive Director for Academics at UTSI and an Associate Professor of Industrial and Systems Engineering at the University of Tennessee. His current job duties include program academic coordination as well as the Director of Distance Education at the University of Tennessee Space Institute. His research interests include project management, systems engineering, operational research, engineering economics, statistical analysis, logistics, lean six-sigma, and quality. His research continues to be involved in alternative energy research in the areas of electrical generation, biomass gas to liquids, and utilization of stranded or flared natural gases. Resulting from his work in biomass and natural gas to liquid, he has several patents in alternative energy-related areas.