Why space? Need help in deciding what to do?
Learn from those currently working in the sector why they chose to work in the space industry and get practical advice.
|| Debra Facktor Lepore || Organization
|| Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp
|| Job Title
|| Vice President & GM, Strategic Operations
|| Arlington, VA
I am the vice president and general manager of Strategic Operations for Ball Aerospace. My organization consists of three divisions: Washington Operations, Communications, and Strategic Developments. I'm responsible for increasing Ball Aerospace's presence in the market and facilitating
collaboration across our company, and serve as the company's senior representative in the Washington, DC, area.
B.S.E. (magna cum laude) and M.S.E., aerospace engineering, University of Michigan. |
International Space University summer session program (space policy & law)
| Career Path
I began work during the Cold War as an aerospace engineer at ANSER, a think tank in the Washington DC area. At ANSER, I worked on advanced launch vehicles, became an expert on Russian rocket engines, and then served as chief of Moscow Operations during the very early days of establishing cooperation with Russia and Ukraine on space activities. This led me to the entrepreneurial part of my career, where I worked at Kistler Aerospace Corporation to develop the privately-funded K-1 reusable launch vehicle, and then as president of AirLaunch LLC, developing a small rocket to launch out of the back end of a C-17 cargo aircraft. After the start-ups, I did an academic sabbatical at Stevens Institute of Engineering in systems engineering, and then joined Ball Aerospace at the beginning of 2013.
I chose space because I wanted to work on things that had never been done before. I grew up outside of Detroit, Michigan, surrounded by the automotive industry. Apparently this influenced me, as I ended up working on rocket engines and launch vehicles - a transportation industry of a different kind!
||Words of Wisdom
I have benefited from advice of many mentors over the years and learned from my own experiences. To this day, I use my own guiding principle of "doing things that have never been done before" to make career or life decisions. I firmly believe in "passing it on" - in mentoring, sharing advice, helping others, and creating a community of collaboration.
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