Starlab Space Announces Leadership Team

12 FEB 2024 15:01 | PR Newswire

Tim Kopra named CEO, Mohit Sharma as CFO

HOUSTON, Feb. 12, 2024 /PRNewswire/ -- Starlab Space LLC (Starlab Space), the transatlantic joint venture between Voyager Space and Airbus, today announced its leadership team, comprising a group of highly accomplished professionals poised to drive the company forward.

Retired NASA astronaut and Voyager executive, Tim Kopra has been appointed as Starlab's new CEO. A seasoned leader, Kopra will leverage his extensive expertise in space exploration and experience overseeing the Starlab program at Nanoracks (part of Voyager's Exploration Segment) to lead the joint venture as it continues down the development path. Kopra will also serve on the Starlab Board of Directors.

"I am honored to lead Starlab in our mission to transform space exploration," said Kopra. "The collaboration between Voyager Space and Airbus reflects an unparalleled level of expertise, embodied by this top-notch leadership team. Starlab Space is not only positioned to meet and exceed current space exploration standards but also to revolutionize the commercial space sector as a whole."

Mohit Sharma, currently Head of Mergers and Acquisitions Finance at Airbus Defence and Space, joins Starlab as CFO. After 15 years at Airbus, Sharma will oversee all financial and fundraising aspects of Starlab, expanding and developing the joint venture's financial strategy to foster the company's continued growth.

"We are entering a pivotal moment in the aerospace industry, and I feel privileged to be part of Starlab's leadership team," said Sharma. "As we navigate the financial landscape of this innovative international venture, our focus will be on ensuring fiscal strength and strategic allocation of resources. I am honored to contribute to the success of this ambitious endeavor, creating value for our stakeholders and establishing a solid foundation for the bright future of space exploration."

Voyager Space's CTO Marshall Smith, Former NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine, Airbus U.S. Space and Defense's SVP and Head of Space Systems Debra Facktor and CFO Mohamed Denden also join Starlab as esteemed members of the Board. In addition, Dr. Marc Steckling, SVP and Head of Earth Observation, Science and Exploration at Airbus Defence and Space, will be a permanent guest in the Starlab Board.

Starlab Space LLC Management Board

Tim Kopra, Chief Executive Officer

Tim Kopra has been a career military officer, astronaut, and now senior business leader. He was previously the President of OneWeb Technologies, a U.S. company providing global, secure satellite communications. Additionally, Kopra was the Vice President for Robotics and Space Operations at MDA, a Canadian space company. He was also Partner and Co-founder of Blue Bear Capital, an energy technology venture capital firm.

Kopra served in various leadership and operational roles at NASA as an engineer, astronaut, and International Space Station Commander. While at NASA, he completed two spaceflights, three spacewalks, and logged 244 days in space.

As an Army aviator, Kopra deployed to Operation Desert Storm and then commanded an AH-64 Attack Helicopter Company. Following these assignments, he was the Developmental Test Director for the Army's Comanche Helicopter Program until his assignment to NASA in 1998 and astronaut selection in 2000.

Kopra remains active in military affairs as a Civilian Aide to the Secretary of the Army. He is also involved in the Texas entrepreneurship ecosystem as an advisor to Greentown Labs Houston.

Mohit Sharma, Chief Financial Officer

Mohit Sharma spent more than 15 years at Airbus, last serving as the Head of Mergers and Acquisitions Finance for Airbus Defence and Space. With experience in finance, mergers and acquisitions, fundraising (equity, debt etc.), Sharma drove international cooperation and partnerships for Airbus, developing new and innovative businesses and positioning them for rapid growth - including, most notably, the NewSpace Satellite Constellation Venture OneWeb. An IT engineer trained at Cochin University of Science and Technology with a dual-degree MBA (ESCP Business School and Asian Institute of Technology), he has worked in Asia, the United States and Europe and began his professional career at the United Nations and the International Criminal Court prior to joining Airbus.

Thomas Ayres, General Counsel

Tom served as the 20(th) General Counsel of the Department of the Air Force. In that role, while leading 2,600 attorneys, he also led an interdisciplinary team to draft, advocate for, and then implement the legislation creating the Space Force. Upon the birth of the U.S. Space Force, he simultaneously became the first General Counsel for the U.S. Space Force.

Most recently, Tom was the Chief Legal Officer and General Counsel of Voyager Space. Prior to Voyager Space and his civilian service with the U.S. Air and Space Forces, Tom retired as an Army major general. He served multiple combat tours advising coalition and joint task force commanders in Iraq and Afghanistan, and he was awarded the Bronze Star with two oak leaf clusters. A graduate of West Point and the University of Pennsylvania School of Law, he also has extensive litigation experience, and has experience serving on Boards of Directors.

Paul Schauer, Chief Procurement Officer

At Starlab, Paul is responsible for procurement, contracting, and supplier management. At Voyager Space, Paul remains as Executive Vice President, Integrated Operations, where he is responsible for aligning systems, processes, and people to the company's strategic goals. Prior to Voyager, he spent 25 years supporting the DoD and Intelligence Community in civil service and industry roles. Mr. Schauer built and executed government acquisition strategies for systems ranging from the FAR 12 Part competitions for commercial aircraft to fixed price satellite buys. Paul then served many of the agencies as a supplier on the industry side, where he helped scale a small business through multiple acquisitions culminating as Vice President of Tactical Systems at CACI. Paul is also co-creator and co-host of the Contracting Officer Podcast, where for over 10 years (and over 1.5 million listens) he has used his background to help professionals from both government and industry understand a little more about how the other side thinks.

Further members of the Starlab Space LLC management team are subject to nomination over the coming weeks and months. The team will also include the Managing Director of Starlab's European entity once this company has been founded.

Starlab Board of Directors

Tim Kopra, Starlab Space LLC CEO

Jim Bridenstine, Former NASA Administrator

Jim Bridenstine, a former Navy pilot and U.S. Congressman, served as the 13th Administrator of NASA, nominated by President Donald Trump. Leading a 70,000-person workforce and managing a $23 billion annual budget, he propelled NASA's Artemis program, focusing on Moon exploration and Mars missions. Bridenstine prioritized commercial partnerships, enabling America's return to human spaceflight in 2020 and establishing the Commercial Lunar Payload Services Program. His diverse career also includes a role in creating the Space Force while serving in Congress and a notable military service with combat missions in Iraq and Afghanistan as a Navy pilot.

Marshall Smith, Chief Technology Officer, Voyager Space

Marshall Smith has decades of experience designing and building complex, human-rated space systems for NASA. At Voyager, Mr. Smith oversees the development of Starlab, the company's commercial space station, and other space infrastructure and exploration initiatives.

Previously at Nanoracks, part of Voyager's Exploration Segment, Smith managed the space systems division, which included commercial space station development, autonomous outpost platforms, and support systems including airlocks. Marshall comes to Voyager having served for 37 years at NASA, most recently as the Deputy Associate Administrator for Systems Engineering, Director for Human Exploration and Director for Cross-Program Systems Engineering.

Smith led large, integrated teams to develop and implement some of NASA's most critical programs including systems engineering for SLS, Orion, and Exploration Ground Systems. He led the formulation of the Artemis and Moon to Mars plans, including NASA's Gateway, the Human Landing System, and other future systems required for deep space missions. He is the recipient of the NASA Systems Engineering Excellence of the Year Award, the NASA Outstanding Leadership Medal, and the NASA Exceptional Service Medal.

Debra Facktor, Head of U.S. Space Systems, Airbus U.S. Space and Defense, Inc.

Debra Facktor leads the Airbus U.S. Space Systems line of business, with a focus on small satellites produced for commercial and government customers at the company's manufacturing facility in Merritt Island, Florida, and on space exploration activities in the U.S. Facktor also served on the board of the Airbus OneWeb Satellites joint venture prior to its recent acquisition by Airbus U.S.

Before joining Airbus U.S., Facktor was Vice President and General Manager of Strategic Operations for Ball Aerospace, leading the company's Washington DC operations, strategic development, and marketing and communications.

Facktor received her bachelor's and master's degrees in aerospace engineering from the University of Michigan and is an alumna of the International Space University summer session program in Strasbourg, France.

Mohamed Denden, Chief Financial Officer, Airbus U.S. Space & Defense

Mohamed Denden is Chief Financial Officer for Airbus U.S. Space & Defense, Inc. Denden has been with Airbus for 15 years working in the United States and France and possesses an extensive background in the Aerospace and Defense industry, including leadership roles in Corporate Finance, M&A, Investor Relations, and Supply Chain.

Before joining Airbus, Denden worked at Lockheed Martin, DRS Technologies, and Deloitte. He is a CPA and holds an MBA from the University of Central Florida, and is fluent in several languages.

Dr. Marc Steckling, SVP and Head of Earth Observation, Science and Exploration at Airbus Defence and Space

Dr. Marc Steckling is the Head of Earth Observation, Science and Exploration at Airbus Defence and Space and leads Airbus Space Systems in Germany. Prior to this he was CEO and Chairman of the Board of Tesat-Spacecom GmbH & Co. KG, a subsidiary of Airbus. Steckling worked for the German Aerospace Center (DLR) before he joined Airbus Defence and Space in 1999. He held management positions including Head of Electronic Products Germany and Head of Lean Management. He holds a degree in Aerospace Engineering and a PhD from the University of Berlin.

About Starlab Space

Starlab Space LLC is a transatlantic joint venture between Voyager Space and Airbus that is designing, building, and will operate the Starlab commercial space station. Starlab will serve a global customer base of space agencies, researchers, and companies, ensuring a continued human presence in low-Earth orbit and a seamless transition of microgravity science and research from the International Space Station into the new commercial space station era.

For more information on Starlab, visit the Starlab website at and follow us on social media at @Starlab_Space (X, []Instagram) and @Starlab (Linkedin).

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