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Mark K. Craig papers

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: MSA 81

Scope and Contents

The Mark K. Craig papers document Purdue alumnus (BSAE 1971) Mark Craig's almost fifty year career in space exploration. Craig contributed to the Apollo, Apollo-Soyuz, Space Shuttle, Space Station, Mars Rover Sample Return, and Lunar-Mars Exploration programs in positions progressing from co-op intern to NASA Assistant Administrator. The papers also reflect Craig’s work on space policy and NASA strategic planning.

The collection notably includes materials related to the day-to-day engineering work early in Craig's career as he witnessed and contributed to the development of the United States Space Shuttle as the youngest member of Max Faget's 1969 Space Shuttle concept development "skunk works" and subsequently worked on the engineering of the shuttle's solid rocket booster (SRB)staging system. During his early career he also provided support for the Apollo-Soyuz Working Group 3, invented the "Hypercube" technique to acquire and access eight-dimensional aerodynamic data, and led math modeling and Zero-G aircraft tests for Return-To-Launch-Sites shuttle aborts. The papers follow Craig’s career to reflect his mid-career project management roles in initiatives such as the development of the Space Station where Craig served as lead engineer for the Space Station Task Force Concept Development Group (CDG) (1983 - 1987), lead engineer for the Space Station "Skunk Works," and served as an engineering manager for the Space Station Program Systems Engineering and Integration. The papers also document Craig's work as manager for NASA's Lunar-Mars exploration initiative (1988), his administrative work on the Space Exploration Initiative (SEI) which included serving as principal SEI liaison with the White House National Space Council and drafting the initial Space Council SEI policy. Administrative and policy-focused work is reflected in the papers of his late career positions at NASA. The collection includes material documenting Craig's work as NASA strategic plan architect (1993 - 1995), creator of the Strategic Enterprise concept and the Human Exploration and Development of Space (HEDS) Enterprise and its strategy.

In summary, the collection holds key working papers that focus on the technical, programmatic, strategy, space policy, and public engagement aspects of key NASA human space flight and Mars initiatives 1969 - 2005. Types of materials include: artifacts, awards, books, certificates, charts, correspondence, designs, DVD-Video discs, films, graphs, market research, memorabilia, memoranda, negatives, notebooks, notes, opinion polls, papers, photographs, posters, presentations, publications, reference materials, reports, slides, spreadsheets, textbooks, and VHS tapes.

Craig provided much of the descriptive content of the material, and this was retained and included in the finding aid.


  • 1917 - 2016
  • Majority of material found within 1980 - 2000


Language of Materials

Collection material is primarily in English. Russian is also present.

Acess Information

Collection is open for research.

Copyright and Use Information

Portions of material in this collection is in the public domain. Other material copyrights held by Purdue UNiversity or original creator. Original interviews property of NASA. Consult with Purdue UnNiversity Archives and Special Collections prior to reproduction of materials.

Biographical Information

Having seen Sputnik as a child and been awakened by his father to watch Mercury and Gemini launches, Craig aspired to work for NASA. Raised in Midland, Texas he began his NASA career in Houston as a Purdue co-op student on the Apollo program in 1967. An expert in spacecraft engineering and analysis, there he subsequently contributed to the Apollo-Soyuz, Space Shuttle, Space Station, Mars Rover Sample Return, and Lunar-Mars Exploration programs in positions progressing from engineer to program manager. At NASA Headquarters in Washington, Craig was Assistant Administrator, Exploration and architect of the NASA Strategic Plan. He was Associate Director of the Johnson Space Center and Director of the Stennis Space Center. He is also an advisor on space exploration for museums and themed attractions.

After retiring from a 38 year career with NASA, Craig supported NASA as Vice President of SAIC from which he retired in 2015. At that time he was presented an American flag flown over the U.S. Capitol for his 48 years of service to the Nation's space program, at the request of Congressman Joe Kennedy III of Massachusetts.

Craig earned a B.S. in Astronautical Engineering from Purdue University in 1971, pursued engineering graduate study at Rice University, and completed MIT's Sloan Program for Senior Executives in 1992. He has authored over 40 papers on space exploration and has received numerous awards including NASA Medals for Distinguished Service and Outstanding Leadership, the Rotary National Award for Space Achievement Stellar Award, and the NSPE Federal Engineer of the Year Award. Craig is a Distinguished Engineering Alumnus of Purdue, a Fellow of the American Astronautical Society, and a member of the International Academy of Astronautics. He was elected President of the American Astronautical Society in 2005. Craig is an Elder of the Presbyterian Church and a member of the National Eagle Scout and College of Art Associations. He collects old, original prints and does research for the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston on prints and drawings, as a volunteer.

Craigs's mountaintop experiences at NASA include: a one-on-one meeting with Neil Armstrong the day he was named commander of Apollo 11; conversations with Gene Cernan about his thoughts and feelings while on the Moon; being detained at Apollo 11's launch pad for an hour at T-9 hours, and experiencing its launch; inspecting the Space Shuttle fueled on its launch pad at T-3hours and again just after it landed from orbit, and then sitting in its cockpit; in the White House, conversations with the Vice President about Lunar-Mars exploration; being on console in the KSC Launch Control Firing Room, and experiencing 30 Shuttle launches; experiencing weightlessness on NASA's "zero-g" aircraft leading a Space Shuttle test campaign. Per Craig, career contributions of which he's most proud include: helping to create policy and strategy to sustain NASA human space exploration based on its value to America so that, unlike Apollo, reaching a destination does not result in program termination; leading NASA's first agency-wide studies of lunar and Mars exploration; leading negotiations that resulted in Space Station partnerships with Europe, Japan, and Canada; leading the design, development, and test of the Space Shuttle booster staging system; being a member of the startup team for Space Shuttle in 1969, Space Station in 1983, and the Lunar-Mars Space Exploration Initiative in 1988; founding, as Chairman, the National Rocket Propulsion Test Alliance with the Department of Defense; being on the creative teams for the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex's Shuttle Launch Experience attraction, Space Shuttle Atlantis Exhibit, and Explorers Wanted campaign.


36.027 Cubic Feet (Eighty-six letter-size full-width manuscript boxes, eleven letter-size half-width manuscript boxes, two cubic foot boxes, and five flat boxes. Some oversized items are in flat file folders. )


The papers are organized into 18 series and follow the path of Craig's career, with the exception of his reference materials, education material, and career highlights/memorabilia appearing at the end of his papers. Whenever possible, original order of the materials has been retained. Most of these items appear in reverse chronological order. Oversized artifacts, awards, certificates, posters, and other printed material have been separated and grouped together for preservation purposes.
  1. Space Shuttle Program
  2. Apollo-Soyuz Test Project Docking Working Group
  3. Space Station Program
  4. Mars Rover Sample Return (MRSR) Project
  5. Lunar and Mars Exploration Program
  6. President G.H.W. Bush Space Exploration Initiative - SEI
  7. Administrator Redirection Initiatives
  8. NASA Strategy and Strategic Management
  9. Human Exploration and Development of Space (HEDS) Strategic Enterprise
  10. Sustainability, Stability, and Value of NASA Human Space Flight
  11. Stennis Space Center (SSC) Management
  12. Johnson Space Center (JSC) Management
  13. Space Themed Attraction Design
  14. President, American Astronautical Society (AAS)
  15. Reference Material
  16. Career Highlights and Memorabilia
  17. Career Miscellaneous
  18. Personal Album

Physical Access Information

Materials are stored off-site. At least 24 hours notice is required.

Acquisition Information

Donated by Mark K. Craig, 2007 - 2016, with bulk of the material arriving in 2016.

Processing Information

All materials have been housed in acid-free folders and acid-free boxes. Polyester sleeves were used for photographs.

Craig provided much of the descriptive content of the material, and this was retained. He had specifically designated some documents "original," and this designation is noted in the scope notes of items he had taken the time to note the uniqueness of. the item.



Mark K. Craig papers
In Progress
Mary A. Sego
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Edition statement
Second edition. Collection description first completed 2016-04-20.

Repository Details

Part of the Purdue University Archives and Special Collections Repository

504 Mitch Daniels Boulevard
West Lafayette Indiana 47907 United States