Background on David Coppedge and the Lawsuit Against NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

Updated November 2, 2012


David Coppedge was an information technology specialist and system administrator on JPL’s international Cassini mission to Saturn, the most ambitious interplanetary exploration ever launched. A division of California Institute of Technology, JPL operates under a contract with the federal space agency. Coppedge held the title of “Team Lead” System Administrator on the mission until his supervisors demoted and humiliated him for advancing ideas that superiors labeled “unwelcome” and “disruptive.” Ultimately they fired him. Demotion and termination led to a lawsuit and trial. The latter concluded in April, 2012. The trial court announced on October 31, 2012, its intention to rule in JPL’s favor within 30 days.

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David Coppedge is an information technology specialist and high level system administrator at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California. Coppedge has worked on the international Cassini mission to Saturn at JPL since 1997, the most ambitious interplanetary exploration ever launched. In that capacity, he has a wide breadth of knowledge about technical aspects of Cassini’s computers and networks and was heavily involved in all the mission operations. From 2000-2009, he held the title of “Team Lead System Administrator” on Cassini until his supervisors demoted and humiliated him for advancing handing out pro-intelligent design DVDs that were deemed “unwelcome” and “disruptive.” Coppedge has been a faithful and highly regarded JPL employee for many years, has led tours of the lab and has served as an outreach speaker presenting the Cassini findings to civic and astronomy clubs and school groups. Also actively involved in the intelligent design movement, Coppedge serves on the board of Illustra Media, which has produced videos such as Unlocking the Mystery of Life and The Privileged Planet—the very DVDs that his employer has tried to suppress at JPL.

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