My Brief Bio

James Burk is the Executive Director of the Mars Society and is leading the set up of the Mars Technology Institute. His responsibilities include managing the Mars Desert Research Station in Utah and the Flashline Mars Arctic Research Station in Canada, both critical for Mars analog research. He commanded Transatlantic MDRS Crew 261, a notable mission in analog astronautics which was featured on CBS and Northwest Aerospace News Magazine. With a background as a Microsoft engineer and technical project director, Burk combines broad technological expertise with a deep passion for space exploration.


My Detailed Bio

A little about me.

I am the Executive Director of the Mars Society. I began this role in December 2021. I am also leading the AI project under the new Mars Technology Institute, which I am also helping to set up.

I’m a former Microsoft engineer and a technology/engineering manager with 25+ years of experience delivering custom software solutions at scale which millions of people have used.

In 2023, I helped Robert Zubrin start the Mars Technology Institute, raising $150,000 through a successful community-based crowdfunding campaign.

I commanded Transatlantic MDRS Crew 261, a notable mission in analog astronautics which was featured on CBS and Northwest Aerospace News Magazine. We grew tomato plants in simulated Mars soil! We also did 19 EVAs in 12 days and worked on 21 different experiments.

I was Mission Support lead for the Flashline Crew 15 that arrived on Devon Island in July 2023 and performed a successful reactivation mission. We are now planning to visit Flashline Station in the arctic every summer.

In 2020-2021, I organized several large all-virtual events, leveraging cutting-edge online networking technologies. I was the lead organizer and event technologist for the 2020 & 2021 Mars Society Virtual Conventions, which had over 15,000 attendees, over 300 speakers, and were seen by over 100,000 people via live streaming on Youtube and Facebook Live. As part of the 2020 conference, I interviewed Elon Musk, CEO of SpaceX and Tesla.

I chaired the 2020 and 2021 Lunar Development Conference which brought together over 400 lunar scientists, advocates and business professionals. I edited the 2020 conference proceedings book which is for sale on Amazon.

I was a volunteer for The Mars Society from the founding of the organization in 1998 until December 2021 when I became a full-time paid staffer as Executive Director. I serve on our Steering Committee and was our Director of Information Technology from 2011-2021, responsible for keeping our online presences on the cutting edge. I also have led the MarsVR project since 2018 to create research and training experiences using the latest virtual reality technologies that have direct application to human space exploration.

I am a Certified ScrumMaster, a Project Management Professional, a Certified Blockchain expert, and a polylingual software developer. Throughout my career — since I was a 19 year-old website designer featured on the front page of the Jacksonville, Florida newspaper who developed the first website for an NFL (American Football) team, to Microsoft, and now with The Mars Society, I am grateful to have had the opportunity to work on innovative projects, solutions, and new technologies that create new organizational value and that speak to mass audiences.