Dr. Parkin is the founder of Parkin Research and the inventor of the microwave thermal rocket. In 2005, he was awarded the Korolev Medal by the Russian Federation of Astronautics and Cosmonautics for his ground-breaking work in microwave thermal propulsion.
In 2007, Dr. Parkin founded the Mission Design Center (MDC) at NASA Ames and developed its software architecture, having previously created the ICEMaker software used for spacecraft design by Team-X at NASA JPL and several other organizations. The MDC was the first of its kind to make extensive use of groupware to pool knowledge and maintain standardized spacecraft parts databases. Another innovation was the use of a centralized parametric mission design archive that enabled realtime design collaboration and object-oriented ‘inheritance’ of missions to form ‘trees’ of design variations.
From 2009 to 2015, Dr. Parkin was a Research Faculty member at the Silicon Valley campus of Carnegie Mellon University. In this role, he served as Principal Investigator of a $5M NASA-funded project to conduct innovative research to implement a sustainable and extensible vision for space exploration in the long term. From 2012-2014 he additionally served as Principal Investigator and Chief Engineer of a $3M DARPA-instigated project to build a small millimeter-wave thermal rocket and launch it. This resulted in the first millimeter-wave absorbent refractory heat exchanger, the first millimeter-wave thermal rocket, and the first high power cooperative target millimeter-wave beam director. These elements were combined to achieve the first millimeter-wave thermal rocket launch in early 2014.
Dr. Parkin is a member of the Institute of Physics (IOP) and holds an M.Phys. from the University of Leicester (1999), an M.S. from GALCIT (2001) and a Ph.D. from GALCIT (2006).