John F. Muratore is an American engineer, former professor of Aviation Systems at the University of Tennessee Space Institute in Tullahoma, TN and current Director of Vehicle Certification at SpaceX in Hawthorne Ca . He is a former NASA engineer and Program Manager, well known in the aerospace circles for his gregarious and unconventional style.
He earned his Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering in 1979 from Yale University and a Master of Science in Computer Science in 1988 from the University of Houston–Clear Lake. After serving in the US Air Force, Mr. Muratore joined NASA JSC in 1983 and has held progressively responsible leadership positions including Chief, Reconfiguration Management Division, Space Shuttle Flight Director, and Chief, Control Center Systems Division in the Mission Operations Directorate; and Associate Director and Deputy Manager, Advance Development Office and Assistant to the Director, Engineering within the Engineering Directorate.
From 1996 to 2003, he was the Program Manager of the X-38 program, an unmanned demonstrator which performed a series of successful demonstration flights at Edwards Air Force Base. He gathered a team of young, relatively inexperienced but highly motivated engineers to try to apply the 'faster, better, cheaper' method advocated by Daniel Goldin to human spaceflight, in order for NASA to obtain at affordable cost a Crew Return Vehicle.
In 2003, following the cancellation of the X-38 program due to the International Space Station program's financial woes, Mr. Muratore was named Manager, Space Shuttle Systems Engineering and Integration Office, Space Shuttle Program. Most recently he has served as Lead Engineer for the Space Shuttle Program.
In April 2006, following his technical opposition to Michael Griffin's decisions regarding the Shuttle return to flight, he was reassigned as Senior Systems Engineer supporting the Shuttle/Station Engineering Office in the Engineering Directorate.
In August 2006, as part of NASA's outreach program, Muratore became an Adjunct Lecturer at Rice University in Houston, Texas. He taught graduate-level classes in Aerospace Systems Engineering and Introductory Flight Testing. Also while at Rice, Muratore advised an undergraduate Senior Design group tasked with creating an experiment to be flown on NASA's Weightless Wonder microgravity research aircraft. The purpose of the experiment was to demonstrate the feasibility of using the aircraft as a test-bed for commercial small-scale zero-gravity systems; testing of such systems in a 1 G environment requires costly simulators that cannot completely model micro- and zero-gravity environments. The Rice team, under the guidance of Muratore, showed that the NASA aircraft indeed was a viable platform for such testing, creating an impressive mock satellite in only two semesters with a very limited budget.
Muratore's experiences at Rice University inspired him to teach full-time. He served four years as a research associate professor at the University of Tennessee Space Institute in Tullahoma, TN. His research at UTSI focused on the use of advanced airborne data acquisition networks for aircraft flight testing and airborne science. He instrumented aircraft that supported missions for NASA and NOAA making earth observations and performing atmospheric sampling.
In 2011, Muratore returned to space development by joining SpaceX of Hawthorne California. He supported the first commercial Falcon-9/Dragon mission to the International Space Station in May 2012.
Muratore has written several articles. A selection:
- 1990. John F. Muratore, Troy A. Heindel, Terri B. Murphy, Arthur N. Rasmussen, Robert Z. McFarland: "Real-Time Data Acquisition at Mission Control". In: Commun. ACM 33(12): 18-31 (1990)
- Team Aviators : Microgravity Research (Rice University)
- University of Tennessee Space Institute (University of Tennessee)
- Twenty-First Century Flight Test Engineering Education Using NI LabVIEW Software and PXI Hardware
- NASA Space Grant Course Online - Space Systems Engineering
- Rice Instrumentation and Data Acquisition course online at National Instruments
- MyDAQ LabVIEW example courseware at National Instruments