Karman Fellow 2022
Director of Flight Safety
Bala has fifteen years of experience as a systems engineer in the aerospace industry. He has worked in a leadership and individual capacity on a number of significant projects, most notably leading the human-rating of the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket.
He served as the launch chief engineer for SpaceX’s maiden mission with US astronauts onboard, Crew Demo-2. His work has touched a range of technical areas including propulsion systems, modeling rocket explosions, designing fault detection and response systems, trajectory analysis, composite overwrapped pressure vessel qualification, anomaly investigation, and reliability. He has worked to make advances in flight and range safety to enable the Starship development program. Bala also co-founded a company to put antimatter to work in engineering applications, and previously led an open source lunar lander development project. He is a recipient of the Dr. Robert H. Goddard Memorial Trophy, Eagle Manned Mission Award, and the NASA Exceptional Public Service Medal.