Rusty Thomas is the SVP & General Manager of Sierra Space’s Space Applications Sector and Chief Technology Officer, driving the development and operations of our team.
With nearly 34 years of experience in the space industry, Thomas has spent his career leveraging commercial approaches for on-time, zero-defect, delivery of spacecraft and launch vehicles.
Thomas joins Sierra Space from Amazon where he led the Kuiper Government Solutions team, responsible for leading Kuiper Government engagement and advanced project teams.
Prior to Kuiper, Thomas led the Project Blackjack and Pit Boss teams for DARPA’s Tactical Technology Office that are demonstrating the military utility of proliferated LEO small satellites, including autonomous operations and direct tactical communication links from space assets to warfighters.
Prior to DARPA, Thomas was Senior Director of Dragon Production at SpaceX, where he led the team that built the first commercial spacecraft to resupply the International Space Station. His team also manufactured the Falcon9 landing legs and actuators.
He has held positions at Motorola on the original Iridium satellite integration and launch team, worked on Space Shuttle and SpaceLab structural analysis, led the DARPA MiTEX mechanical design team, and held multiple program management positions at Northrup Grumman’s (previously Orbital) advanced projects groups developing and launching classified spacecraft.
His military background includes twenty years of service in the U.S. Navy Reserve. Thomas is an Iraq veteran and Navy Intelligence Officer trained to deploy with Naval Special Warfare teams.
Thomas holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Aeronautical and Astronomical Engineering from Purdue University and a Master of Science degree in Engineering Mechanics, Aerospace, from the University of Texas at Austin.