Spaceplane company names ex-Skunk Works boss as COO

Jeff Babione
Jeff Babione

Sierra Space, an aerospace company developing a reusable spaceplane, has named Jeff Babione as its chief operating officer (COO).

Babione is a long-time industry veteran, most recently serving as Lockheed Martin’s Advanced Development Program vice president and general manager, leading the division commonly referred to as Skunk Works.

Prior to Skunk Works, Babione was the executive vice president and general manager of the F-35 programme at Lockheed Martin, responsible for the development, production, sustainment and modernisation of three F-35 variants for three US military services, eight international partner nations and multiple foreign military sales customers.

Babione led the F-22 and F-16 programmes prior to his work on the F-35, and served as chief engineer on the F-22 Raptor.

Sierra Space's reusable spaceplane, Dream Chaser
Sierra Space's reusable spaceplane, named Dream Chaser

“Jeff is an exceptional leader who brings to Sierra Space a wealth of talent, experience and shared passion for achieving our vision,” said Tom Vice, Sierra Space CEO. “We are delighted to have Jeff join our leadership team and I know his proven track record in leading complex aerospace businesses and programs will be a great asset as we build the first commercial platform in space.”

“Sierra Space and the team Tom is assembling are bold industry leaders in the commercial space and low-Earth orbit industries,” added Babione. “Throughout my career I have been fortunate to work with some amazing teams and play a role in producing incredible technology for our nation, but I have always wanted to do something in the space sector. Here at Sierra Space, we have the unique opportunity to make a real, lasting difference for the future of humanity in the work we will do. As I look forward to the day at Kennedy Space Center where we see Dream Chaser launch and later return to land on the runway, I know that I can help get us to that iconic moment.”

In November 2021, Sierra Space secured a $1.4bn capital raise, one of the largest aerospace and defence capital raises globally in 2021. The Series A investment was led by General Atlantic, Coatue and Moore Strategic Ventures, with participation from funds and accounts managed by BlackRock Private Equity Partners and AE Industrial Partners.

Dream Chaser during assembly
Dream Chaser during assembly

The funding is accelerating the development of the company’s space transportation systems – led by the Dream Chaser spaceplane, in-space destinations for LEO commercialisation, and advanced technologies and space applications.

Sierra Space also recently outlined plans for an extensive recruitment drive that will nearly double its labour force and create 1,000 net new jobs in 2022 with the majority of positions being in Colorado and also distributed to other locations in Wisconsin, Florida and North Carolina.


Sierra Space

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