In a career dedicated to our nation’s civil space and missile defense programs, Jonathan Sharpe developed and implemented innovative solutions to challenging problems, along the way strengthening human spaceflight capabilities and contributing to improved national and allied security.
With a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering from The University of Alabama, Sharpe began work with Lockheed Martin Corporation in Louisiana supporting development of advanced materials and process technologies for space vehicles. He later earned a master’s degree in engineering management from the Florida Institute of Technology.
Early in his career, transferring to his hometown of Huntsville with Lockheed Martin, he led research, developmental, test and production efforts including establishment of a Materials Research Laboratory; development of advanced, environmentally compliant cryogenic insulation systems; production of flight composite nose cones for the space shuttle’s External Tank; support to Internal Research and Development of liquid oxygen compatible composites, composite fiber placement processes and reusable thermal protection systems; as well as management of Test Operations. Sharpe was also instrumental in establishing a commercial operation for thermal protection coating processing.
Throughout the life of the Space Shuttle Program, Sharpe provided support to more than 100 launches – supporting many Day of Launch and In Flight Anomaly problem resolution teams and post flight assessments. Sharpe ultimately served as lead executive of Lockheed Martin’s Civil Space operations at the NASA Marshall Space Flight Center and Lockheed Martin’s chief engineer at the Huntsville Operations Support Center, managing multiple engineering and production disciplines, and functional areas supporting Shuttle and developmental programs (X-33, X-34, F-35, etc.).
Among his many significant accomplishments were serving as Test Team Lead for the Columbia Accident Investigation, External Tank efforts focused at determining most probable cause for the Columbia Accident; supporting the External Tank hardware redesign, flight certification and “Return to Flight” efforts for the Space Shuttle Discovery in 2005; and in supporting problem resolution and development of flight rationale related to unforeseen issues with the last mission of Space Shuttle Discovery in 2010, helping clear the path for the final three Shuttle flights to proceed in 2011.
In 2010, he was named the Huntsville Site director and director of Weapon Systems Integration for Lockheed Martin Space Systems Company, Missile Systems and Advanced Programs business unit. Sharpe oversaw operations of the Huntsville site with more than 700 employees and teammates supporting missile defense, battle management, and developmental programs until his retirement in 2017.
After 34 years with Lockheed Martin, Sharpe became the vice president of the Lee & Associates Division of QuantiTech, continuing to provide technical and management support to government and commercial customers through technical engineering and software development services for the civil space and defense industry.
Sharpe is a recipient of the coveted Silver Snoopy Award, given by astronauts to NASA personnel and contractors for outstanding performance, contributing to flight safety and mission success. His team was also selected for the Environmental Protection Agency’s Stratospheric Ozone Protection Award. In 2016, the UA College of Engineering honored him as Distinguished Engineering Fellow.
Professionally, he is a member the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics and American Astronautical Society, and serves on the UA College of Engineering Advisory Board.