Alexander MacDonald

Chief Economist, National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)

Alexander MacDonald is the NASA Chief Economist. In this role, he serves as the Program Executive for the International Space Station National Laboratory, which manages national access to half of the U.S. research resources on the space station. He is recognized as an expert on the economic history of American space exploration and contemporary private-sector space activities. He was formerly the Senior Economic Advisor in the Office of the Administration, and the founding program executive of NASA's Emerging Space Office which established NASA’s first grants program for economics research. He is the author and editor of a number of NASA reports including Emerging Space: The Evolving Landscape of 21st Century American Spaceflight, Public-Private Partnerships for Space Capability Development, and Economic Development of Low-Earth Orbit. He is a former member of the executive staff of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), former research faculty member at Carnegie Mellon University, and has worked for the Universities Space Research Association while at NASA’s Ames Research Center. He received his undergraduate degree in economics from Queen's University in Canada, his master's degree in economics from the University of British Columbia, and was a Clarendon Scholar at the University of Oxford where he obtained his doctorate on the long-run economic history of American space exploration. He was also an inaugural TED Senior Fellow and received the AIAA History Manuscript of the Year Award in 2016 for his book The Long Space Age: The Economic Origins of Space Exploration from Colonial America to the Cold War published by Yale University Press.

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