photo of Timothy Crain

Chief Technology Officer, Intuitive Machines

B.S. ASE 1995, The University of Texas at Austin
M.S. ASE 1999, The University of Texas at Austin
Ph.D. ASE 2000, The University of Texas at Austin

Tim Crain is the chief technology officer and a co-founder of Intuitive Machines in Houston, TX where he leads technology development and shapes business strategy at IM in fields ranging from lunar landers to space nuclear power.

Crain received his B.S. in aerospace engineering at The University of Texas at Austin in 1995 and continued his studies there in graduate school under Dr. Robert Bishop to receive his M.S. and Ph.D. in 1999 and 2000 respectively. He was a National Science Foundation Graduate Fellow, JPL-funded graduate researcher, and assistant instructor during his tenure at UT.

Crain’s professional career began at the NASA Johnson Space Center (JSC) in September of 2000 as an engineer in the Advanced Mission Design branch of the Aeroscience and Flight Mechanics Division of the Engineering Directorate – and in his opinion, the best branch in the best division at the best center in the best agency of the best country on the planet. At JSC Crain worked on Mars missions, robotic servicing missions for Hubble Space Telescope, and served as the first Orion Orbit Guidance Navigation and Control Mode team lead from 2006-2010. In 2009, he joined the Morpheus and ALHAT projects developing flight systems for experimental lunar landers with precision landing and hazard avoidance.

Crain left NASA in 2013 to found Intuitive Machines (IM) with Steve Altemus and Kam Ghaffarian as a think-tank dedicated to applying technology and techniques developed for human spaceflight across the aerospace, energy and medical sectors. Inventions IM developed or built included ultra long-range drones (some flew in Antarctica), automatic intra-venous catheter devices, Gulf-floor oil spill seepage modeling, precision drilling simulation trainers, a financial strategy algorithm, a cryptocurrency credit card and a stroke-patient mobility assist device. In 2018, “IM” pivoted to focus exclusively on commercial lunar transportation and infrastructure services, winning three contracts in the NASA Commercial Lunar Payload Services program.

Crain became convinced of the power of small-team innovation with the successful demonstration flights of the Morpheus landers. Taking this spirit to IM, he has helped grow the company to over 250 employees and with taking the company public on the NASDAQ stock exchange with the ticker symbol LUNR in February 2023. IM has three lunar landing missions scheduled in the coming year taking over 350 kilograms of payload to the lunar surface and deploying two commercial communications relay satellites in lunar orbit.

Crain was a National Science Foundation graduate fellow from 1996-2000. He received the Outstanding Young Texas Ex award (2008) and the Outstanding Young Engineering Graduate award (2008). He has served on the UT Austin ASE/EM External Advisory Committee, the American Astronautical Society Technical Committee and the Standing Review Board for the OSIRIS-REx mission. His honors include two NASA Exceptional Achievement Medals, 20 NASA Group Achievement Awards and a NASA Space Act Award.

Crain lives in Seabrook, TX with his wife, Melissa. He has three children at The University of Texas: Jessica is finishing her social work masters in preparation for counseling, Bella is finishing a biology degree in preparation for veterinary medicine in Scotland, and Connor has just begun his first year in ASE/EM. He is the world’s “okay-est” bass player.