Hoppy Price
Distinguished Alumni
Class of 1972

Hoppy Price

Humphrey “Hoppy” Price graduated from Alamo Heights High School in 1972. During his time there, Hoppy was a founding member of the Knights of Cobalt, a club dedicated to applying chemistry, physics, and mathematics to everyday living. Hoppy was also elected to the Student Council, served as vice-president of the Key Club, historian of Los Amigos, and was a member of various clubs. As a member of the Alamo Heights High School math team, he helped secure many wins at statewide competitions. Additionally, he was the co-author of a state competition-winning paper describing a new mathematical function. 

 After graduating from Alamo Heights, Hoppy earned a Bachelor of Engineering Science from The University of Texas at Austin in 1976. He later achieved a Master of Science in Nuclear Engineering at UT Austin in 1978. While completing his Master’s, he performed safety analyses of nuclear power plants at EDS Nuclear in San Francisco. That same year, he was hired at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, CA, where he performed systems engineering for robotic planetary exploration vehicles.

At JPL, Hoppy engineered the top-level blueprints for the Cassini spacecraft that orbited Saturn from 2004-2017. The Cassini spacecraft was an innovative achievement of human and technical complexity that paved the way for future missions to explore the solar system. It showed us that Saturn’s largest moon, Titan, has weather, climate, and geology that make it the most Earth-like body ever encountered. He also supervised the systems engineering group that developed the entry, descent, and landing system for the Spirit and Opportunity Mars rovers launched in the Summer of 2003. The rovers were positioned to land on opposite sides of Mars to better explore for clues about the history of water on the planet. These rovers provided evidence that Mars conditions were once suited for ancient life, and that liquid water once flowed through part of the planet. In 2012, he was the Project System Engineer for the two Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory (GRAIL) spacecraft. This mission required the spacecraft to orbit the moon and map its gravitational field, and the gravity map generated by the probes has the highest-quality resolution of any celestial body to date.

In addition to these important achievements, Hoppy provides engineering support to NASA’s human spaceflight program. He is currently part of the engineering team working to return U.S. astronauts to the moon and has supported several NGOs, such as the Planetary Society, to help promote astronomy and exploration of our solar system. 

 Hoppy and his wife, Sandy, have two children, Mason and Emma, and reside in California.