Fred Pelletier

NorthStar Earth & Space
Chief Scientist

Fred is the Chief Scientist at NorthStar Earth & Space, a private company offering solutions to ensure the sustainability of Earth and space. He has been a key architect of NorthStar’s satellite constellation and data processing platform designed to continuously monitor multiple objects orbiting Earth with unprecedented speed and precision.

Fred has been at the forefront of space object tracking for over 20 years.  From 2013 to 2019, Fred led the Navigation Team for NASA’s New Horizons mission to Pluto and the Kuiper Belt, where he guided the space probe for the Pluto system encounter in 2015, and the Kuiper Belt Arrokoth encounter in 2019, marking the farthest and most primitive object ever explored by a spacecraft.

Fred was a lead navigator for the Cassini-Huygens mission to Saturn, the Insight and Curiosity Mars landers and the Near-Earth Asteroid rendezvous mission to Eros, establishing scientific and technical expertise in object state estimation, spacecraft guidance and navigation and optical image and radiometric data processing.

Fred received his Master of Aerospace Engineering in 2000 from the University of Texas at Austin, and his Bachelor of Science in mechanical engineering from the Université Laval in Québec, Canada. He has contributed to several international aerospace programs with various positions in industry, government, and academia, including NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, the Canadian Space Agency, KinetX Aerospace and the University of Padua in Italy.

In 2018, the International Astronomical Union has accepted Pelletier as the permanent name for asteroid 177722 2005-GJ205, recognizing Fred’s contributions as Navigation Team Chief for the New Horizons mission to Pluto. In recognition of his achievements in space navigation, Fred received the 2019 Alouette award from the Canadian Air and Space Institute.

Last updated on: January 22, 2024