James D. Burke is a retired JPL lunar settlement and exploration expert. Burke graduated from California Institute of Technology (Caltech) in 1945, became a U.S. Naval Aviator, returned to Caltech for graduate work in Aeronautics, then joined JPL in 1949. He participated in early lunar programs, becoming project manager of Ranger, the first American effort to land operating instruments on the moon.
He is a member of the Space Generation Advisory Council in support of the United Nations Program on Space Applications, and a faculty member of the International Space University.
Burke and his wife Lin are the parents of Webb alumnus Richard '69. In 2005 they made a generous campaign gift to Webb, which funded the construction of the beautiful Copeland Donahue Theater and Digital Media Studio.