Leon Alkalai

National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)Manager, Office of Strategic Planning

Leon Alkalai is a JPL Fellow (2014) and is a Full Member of the International Academy of Astronautics (2005). He is currently the Manager of the JPL Office of Strategic Partnerships, responsible for developing and managing JPL strategic partnerships both domestically and internationally. Leon Alkalai received his PhD in Computer Science from UCLA in 1989 and has been working at JPL ever since. Leon has been in the forefront of JPL’s competed mission’s project formulation as a manager and a business Capture Lead. Leon was the successful Capture Lead for both the GRAIL mission to the Moon: awarded in 2007 and launched in 2011; and then the InSight mission to Mars: awarded in 2012, launched in May of 2018 and successfully landed on Mars in November 2018. Both competitions were part of NASA’s Discovery Program in Solar System Exploration. In 2012, Leon received the NASA Individual Distinguished Achievement Medal for the successful formulation of the GRAIL mission to map the gravity field of the Moon. In 2019, Leon received his second Individual Distinguished Achievement Medal for the successful formulation of InSight and for the successful commission of InSight on Mars. Leon has also been leading research in the area of planetary probes for the rapid access and exploration of the interstellar medium using Solar Thermal Propulsion (STP). Leon also leads JPL’s Medical Engineering Forum (MEF), and is the current project manager of the COVID-19 VITAL Ventilator Project. In 2020, Leon received the JPL Magellan Award for his contributions to the VITAL project and to the JPL COVID-19 response. Leon Alkalai is also a successful entrepreneur and a consultant to start-up companies and venture capital. He is also the co-founder of the Caltech spinoff Verrix LLC which has licensed technology developed for NASA planetary protection and applied it to sterilization monitoring of medical devices in hospitals.