Training and Diversifying Space Project Principal Investigators

NASA science spaceflight projects are often headed up by team leaders called principal investigators (PIs). The project PI not only leads the scientific and technical aspects of the research but also manages the project’s finances and administrative aspects (e.g., disbursing funds and writing status reports) and oversees a team of coinvestigators, students, staff, and other personnel associated with the project.
NASA has successfully used the PI model for project management in each of its science discipline areas (Heliophysics, Astrophysics, Planetary Science, and Earth Science). In this approach, clear programmatic objectives for a space mission are established by direction from NASA Headquarters or through a project proposal competition. The project’s PI and the team then take over scientific, technical, and budgetary responsibility for the project.
The road to becoming a principal investigator (PI) is very selective. Nonetheless, the success of the PI model and of NASA’s…

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