Our Team

James Smith


James began his career at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration 21 years ago at Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland. He spent the first five years performing verification and validation testing on spaceflight hardware before becoming a lead design engineer. During his time at Goddard he invented a mechanism called a Microvalve which has been operating on the surface of Mars since 2012 (Curiosity Rover), and has also been used on missions such as MAVEN which is currently orbiting Mars. He was nominated for NASA’s Inventor of the Year for his work on the Microvalve, and successfully commercialized the mechanism, fulfilling NASA’s goal of transitioning new technologies to industry.

Upon transferring to Kennedy Space Center in 2008, James began working as a Systems Engineer. As the technical lead for a large, geographically dispersed team, James lead several successful field deployments, earning the agency-wide “2017 NASA Systems Engineering Technical Excellence Award” for the 2015 field deployment called “RP15”. In 2018, James received the NASA Outstanding Leadership Medal for his role as the technical lead of the Resource Prospector Science Payload. Today he continues his role as the lead Systems Engineer for several lunar instruments currently in development for use on commercial lunar landers.

James has vast experience throughout the agency having worked with 7 different NASA centers, as well as the Canadian Space Agency, and NASA Headquarters. He has also worked closely with a wide variety of aerospace contractors and outside vendors (both domestic and international) during his 21 years at NASA.

In addition to his career at NASA, James co-founded Innocept, LLC in 2010 to bring another of his inventions to market, the Fumble Pro. The Fumble Pro is a unique sports training tool that increases ball security in football for athletes at all levels of play. In the five years since product launch, the Fumble Pro has fully penetrated the market, and is used by seven NFL teams, several Canadian Football League teams, half of the SEC, and countless other NCAA programs, high school programs, and youth leagues, as well as in Europe and Mexico. James even worked directly with Jon Gruden to have the Fumble Pro featured on ESPN’s “Jon Gruden’s QB Camp” featuring Carson Wentz. As COO and founder, James led the manufacturing, distribution, and marketing of the product line. Innocept secured a licensing deal for the Fumble Pro in 2017, but James remains very involved with continued product improvement and marketing.

James received a Bachelor of Science in Aerospace Engineering under the Cooperative Education Program from the University of Maryland College Park in 1999.