Hans Mark

Hans Mark

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Hans Michael Mark is a former Secretary of the Air Force
United States Secretary of the Air Force
The Secretary of the Air Force is the Head of the Department of the Air Force, a component organization within the Department of Defense of the United States of America. The Secretary of the Air Force is appointed from civilian life by the President, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate...

 and a former Deputy Administrator of NASA
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration is the agency of the United States government that is responsible for the nation's civilian space program and for aeronautics and aerospace research...

. He is an expert and consultant in aerospace design and national defense policy. Mark is currently working in the Department of Aerospace Engineering
Aerospace engineering
Aerospace engineering is the primary branch of engineering concerned with the design, construction and science of aircraft and spacecraft. It is divided into two major and overlapping branches: aeronautical engineering and astronautical engineering...

 and Engineering Mechanics at the University of Texas at Austin
University of Texas at Austin
The University of Texas at Austin is a state research university located in Austin, Texas, USA, and is the flagship institution of the The University of Texas System. Founded in 1883, its campus is located approximately from the Texas State Capitol in Austin...


Early life and career

Mark was born in Mannheim, Germany. He lived in Vienna for a time before escaping the Nazi anschluss via Switzerland. Before the collapse of France the Mark family moved to London where they lived during the Battle of Britain and the bombing of London. Mark's father, Herman Francis Mark
Herman Francis Mark
Herman Francis Mark was an Austrian-American chemist regarded for his contributions to the development of polymer science. Mark's x-ray diffraction work on the molecular structure of fibers provided important evidence for the macromolecular theory of polymer structure...

, a polymer chemist, soon took a position with a Canadian paper company, moving his family to Toronto. A short time later the family moved to the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 in 1940. After becoming an American citizen in 1945, he graduated from New York's
New York City
New York is the most populous city in the United States and the center of the New York Metropolitan Area, one of the most populous metropolitan areas in the world. New York exerts a significant impact upon global commerce, finance, media, art, fashion, research, technology, education, and...

 Stuyvesant High School
Stuyvesant High School
Stuyvesant High School , commonly referred to as Stuy , is a New York City public high school that specializes in mathematics and science. The school opened in 1904 on Manhattan's East Side and moved to a new building in Battery Park City in 1992. Stuyvesant is noted for its strong academic...

 in 1947 and went on to receive a bachelor's degree
Bachelor's degree
A bachelor's degree is usually an academic degree awarded for an undergraduate course or major that generally lasts for three or four years, but can range anywhere from two to six years depending on the region of the world...

 in physics
Physics is a natural science that involves the study of matter and its motion through spacetime, along with related concepts such as energy and force. More broadly, it is the general analysis of nature, conducted in order to understand how the universe behaves.Physics is one of the oldest academic...

 from the University of California, Berkeley
University of California, Berkeley
The University of California, Berkeley , is a teaching and research university established in 1868 and located in Berkeley, California, USA...

 in 1951 and a Ph.D.
Doctor of Philosophy
Doctor of Philosophy, abbreviated as Ph.D., PhD, D.Phil., or DPhil , in English-speaking countries, is a postgraduate academic degree awarded by universities...

 in physics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
The Massachusetts Institute of Technology is a private research university located in Cambridge, Massachusetts. MIT has five schools and one college, containing a total of 32 academic departments, with a strong emphasis on scientific and technological education and research.Founded in 1861 in...

 (MIT) in 1954.

After completion of his doctorate, Mark stayed on at MIT as a research associate
Research associate
The title of research associate is used to denote an academic research position at a university or similar institution. A research associate usually conducts research under the supervision of a principal investigator. In contrast to a research assistant or research officer, a research associate...

 and acting head of the Neutron Physics Group Laboratory for Nuclear Science. He returned to UC Berkeley in 1955 and remained there until 1958 as a research physicist at the University's Lawrence Radiation Laboratory in Livermore
Livermore, California
Livermore is a city in Alameda County. The population as of 2010 was 80,968. Livermore is located on the eastern edge of California's San Francisco Bay Area....

. Dr. Mark then returned to MIT as an assistant professor of physics. In 1960, he again returned to the University of California's Livermore Radiation Laboratory's Experimental Physics Division. He remained there until 1964, when he became chairman of the university's Department of Nuclear Engineering
Nuclear engineering
Nuclear engineering is the branch of engineering concerned with the application of the breakdown as well as the fusion of atomic nuclei and/or the application of other sub-atomic physics, based on the principles of nuclear physics...

 and administrator of the Berkeley Research Reactor.

Mark has also taught undergraduate and graduate
Graduate school
A graduate school is a school that awards advanced academic degrees with the general requirement that students must have earned a previous undergraduate degree...

 courses in physics and engineering
Engineering is the discipline, art, skill and profession of acquiring and applying scientific, mathematical, economic, social, and practical knowledge, in order to design and build structures, machines, devices, systems, materials and processes that safely realize improvements to the lives of...

 at Boston University
Boston University
Boston University is a private research university located in Boston, Massachusetts. With more than 4,000 faculty members and more than 31,000 students, Boston University is one of the largest private universities in the United States and one of Boston's largest employers...

 and the University of California, Davis
University of California, Davis
The University of California, Davis is a public teaching and research university established in 1905 and located in Davis, California, USA. Spanning over , the campus is the largest within the University of California system and third largest by enrollment...


U.S. Government

In February 1969, he became director of NASA's Ames Research Center, located in Mountain View, California
Mountain View, California
-Downtown:Mountain View has a pedestrian-friendly downtown centered on Castro Street. The downtown area consists of the seven blocks of Castro Street from the Downtown Mountain View Station transit center in the north to the intersection with El Camino Real in the south...

. In this role, he managed the center's research and applications efforts in aeronautics
Aeronautics is the science involved with the study, design, and manufacturing of airflight-capable machines, or the techniques of operating aircraft and rocketry within the atmosphere...

, space science
Space science
The term space science may mean:* The study of issues specifically related to space travel and space exploration, including space medicine.* Science performed in outer space ....

, life science and space technology
Space technology
Space technology is technology that is related to entering, and retrieving objects or life forms from space."Every day" technologies such as weather forecasting, remote sensing, GPS systems, satellite television, and some long distance communications systems critically rely on space infrastructure...


He subsequently served as Undersecretary of the Air Force from 1977 until July 1979, when he was promoted to Secretary of the Air Force. Concurrently, he served as Director of the National Reconnaissance Office
National Reconnaissance Office
The National Reconnaissance Office , located in Chantilly, Virginia, is one of the 16 U.S. intelligence agencies. It designs, builds, and operates the spy satellites of the United States government.-Mission:...

, from August 1977 to October 1979. He remained as this position until 1981, when he was appointed Deputy Administrator of NASA by President Reagan
Ronald Reagan
Ronald Wilson Reagan was the 40th President of the United States , the 33rd Governor of California and, prior to that, a radio, film and television actor....

, a position he served in from July 10, 1981 to September 1, 1984.

University of Texas

Upon leaving NASA in 1984, Mark served as Chancellor
Chancellor (education)
A chancellor or vice-chancellor is the chief executive of a university. Other titles are sometimes used, such as president or rector....

 of The University of Texas system until 1992. He moved on to become a senior professor of aerospace engineering at The University of Texas at Austin. In July 1998, he began work at The Pentagon
The Pentagon
The Pentagon is the headquarters of the United States Department of Defense, located in Arlington County, Virginia. As a symbol of the U.S. military, "the Pentagon" is often used metonymically to refer to the Department of Defense rather than the building itself.Designed by the American architect...

 upon President Clinton
Bill Clinton
William Jefferson "Bill" Clinton is an American politician who served as the 42nd President of the United States from 1993 to 2001. Inaugurated at age 46, he was the third-youngest president. He took office at the end of the Cold War, and was the first president of the baby boomer generation...

's nomination of him as Director of Defense Research and Engineering
Director of Defense Research and Engineering
The Assistant Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering ASD is a senior official of the United States Department of Defense. The ASD and the office s/he heads are charged with the development and oversight of DoD technology strategy for the DoD. The ASD reports to the Under Secretary of...

. In 2001, he returned to The University of Texas at Austin, where he is currently holds the John J. McKetta Centennial Energy Chair in Engineering as a professor in the Department of Aerospace Engineering and Engineering Mechanics. He currently teaches a one-hour introductory course to incoming freshman on Aerospace Engineering. All undergraduates since 2001 have taken his course. He also teaches a history of space flight course and as well as a course focusing on the role of technology in the Cold War. Mark also holds a research position at the University of Texas' Institute for Advanced Technology.


Hans Mark is a member of the National Academy of Engineering
National Academy of Engineering
The National Academy of Engineering is a government-created non-profit institution in the United States, that was founded in 1964 under the same congressional act that led to the founding of the National Academy of Sciences...

, the nation's highest honor for engineering professionals. He is also an Honorary Fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics
American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics
The American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics is the professional society for the field of aerospace engineering. The AIAA was founded in 1963 from the merger of two earlier societies: the American Rocket Society , founded in 1930 as the American Interplanetary Society , and the Institute...

. He has received the 1999 Joe J. King Engineering Achievement Award and the 1999 George E. Haddaway Medal for Achievement in Aviation. Dr. Mark was recently honored for his contributions to the US military space program at the 2006 annual meeting of the American Astronautical Society. He received the 2006 Military Astronautics Award on November 14, 2006 at the society’s annual meeting in Pasadena, Calif.

In 2008, the Space Foundation
Space Foundation
The Space Foundation is a nonprofit organization that supports the global space industry through information and education programs. It is a resource for the entire space community - industry, national security organizations, civil space agencies, private space companies and the military around the...

 awarded Mark its highest honor, the General James E. Hill
James E. Hill
General James E. Hill was a World War II flying ace, U.S. Air Force General, and commander in chief of the North American Air Defense Command and the U.S. Air Force Aerospace Defense Command, with consolidated headquarters at Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado Springs, Colorado.-Biography:Hill was...

 Lifetime Space Achievement Award. It is presented annually to recognize outstanding individuals who have distinguished themselves through lifetime contributions to the welfare or betterment of humankind through the exploration, development and use of space, or the use of space technology, information, themes or resources in academic, cultural, industrial or other pursuits of broad benefit to humanity.


Dr. Mark has written or edited eight books and published more than 180 technical report
Technical report
A technical report is a document that describes the process, progress, or results of technical or scientific research or the state of a technical or scientific research problem. It might also include recommendations and conclusions of the research...

s. His works include:
  • (co-authored) Experiments in Modern Physics and Power and Security
  • (co-authored) The Properties of Matter Under Unusual Conditions
  • The Space Station: A Personal Journey (Duke University Press, 1987)
  • The Management of Research Institutions (NASA SP-481, 1984)


Dr. Mark has many recognizable sayings. A few examples are:
  • "Look..."
  • "This is very simple..."
  • "Now when I was in NASA..."
  • "The water fountain at the Pentagon was purple."
  • "You know you're old when things that you were a part of, end up in a museum."
  • "I have half-heimer's."
  • "It's close enough for government work."
  • "I'm teaching you these equations so you know what's in the damn computers."
  • "Once you reach orbit, you're two-thirds the way to anywhere in the universe!"