Team

Founded and funded by Board Chair & Tech Fellow, Jed McCaleb, Vast has assembled a unique team of experienced and talented human spaceflight advisors and engineers. We have the talent, financial resources, and sense of urgency needed to achieve our mission.

Human Spaceflight
220
years of
Experience
184
Missions
Total Spaceflight
910
years of
Experience
2640
Missions

Leadership

JEd McCaleb
FOUNDER, Board Chair & Tech Fellow

Jed is a software engineer, entrepreneur, and philanthropist. He is renowned for founding Vast, Stellar, the Astera Institute, Ripple, and the eDonkey Network.

Max Haot
Chief Executive Officer

Max is an aerospace, consumer electronics, and internet entrepreneur. Founded, scaled, and successfully sold four companies including Launcher (acquired by Vast), Mevo (acquired by Logitech), and Livestream (acquired by IAC/Vimeo).

Krystle Caponio
Chief Legal Officer

Nearly 20 years in the legal and technology sectors, notably being SpaceX's first legal counsel based on-site at its California headquarters. Formerly General Counsel and early team member at other successful space companies.

Alex Hudson
Chief Technology Officer

Proven track record of building and leading transformative R&D and Engineering teams across various tech fields, including space vehicles, quantum computing, imaging systems, and scientific instruments. Most recently the Vice President of Avionics at SpaceX.

Karin Kuo
Senior Vice President, People

Over 15 years of experience leading People & Talent teams in high-growth aerospace and tech startups including Relativity Space, Onica, and a popular dating app. Strategy and management consulting experience with Deloitte, Samsung, and Luminary Labs.

David Caponio
Senior Vice President, Product & Business Development

Over two decades of spaceflight experience in sales, design, production, launch, and operations at startups, primes, and U.S. Government positions spanning the entire space architecture, including national security programs, lunar missions, and commercial space stations.

Daniel Buchmueller
Senior Vice President, Engineering Projects

Over 20 years of experience building cutting edge technology and high performing teams at the intersection of hardware and software in safety-critical environments, including co-founding Amazon Prime Air.

Colin Smith
Vice President, Haven Program

Led the SpaceX Dragon propulsion components team from concept to first human flights. Developed propulsion components for Falcon 9 that have flown on over 260 missions as of November 2023 and helped develop the initial power and actuator architecture for Starship.

Dennis Stone
Vice President, Business Development

Over 40 years of experience in space commercialization, international relations, program and business management, investment, and systems engineering. Led business plan evaluations at NASA, investing $1.6 billion in commercial space enterprises including CLD and COTS.

Kyle Dedmon
Senior Director, Operations

Led the development of world class factories and office spaces including the first high volume production lines at SpaceX supporting the Starlink program, and facilities used by SpaceX's Dragon, Falcon 9, and Starship assembly and test teams.

Ally Maly
Director, Manufacturing

Previously the Additive Manufacturing Manager at Launcher. Managed one of SpaceX's Raptor Program's Additive Manufacturing Labs, where she designed, developed, and manufactured Raptor engine components for Starship SN1-15.

Kelly Halfin
Director, FP&A and Business Intelligence

15 years of experience in business intelligence and marketing. Previously Head of FP&A and Business Intelligence at Launcher, Head of Business Intelligence and Advertising at Mevo, and Head of Business Intelligence at Livestream.

Heidi Underwood
Senior Manager, Brand Design

Over a decade of experience in graphic design and art direction at leading companies including Virgin Orbit, Disney, Vans, and Funboy. Most recently the Art Director at Virgin Orbit.

Igor Nikishchenko
Chief Engineer, Propulsion

Over 30 years of experience designing and developing propulsion systems for various launch vehicles, and theoretical modeling of operating processes during rocket engine design and development.

Andre Ivankovic
Director, E-2 Engineering

Founding team member of Launcher. Developed and built E-1 thrust chamber propulsion components and test stand. Led E-2 propulsion component and engine development and testing at NASA SSC.

Astronaut Advisors

Andrew Feustel

Veteran NASA astronaut with 23 years of experience including NASA's acting Chief Astronaut from late 2022-early 2023, Deputy Chief of the Astronaut Office from 2020-2022, and flying 3 times to the ISS in 2018, 2011, and 2009.

Garrett Reisman

Veteran NASA astronaut and space industry expert. Flew two missions to the ISS in 2008 and 2010, was the Director of Space Operations at SpaceX, and is a Professor of Astronautical Engineering at USC.

Advisors

Hans Koenigsmann

Previous Vice President of Mission Assurance for SpaceX, contributing significantly to the company's pioneering efforts in space exploration including human spaceflight.

Caryn Schenewerk

Experienced Regulatory & Government Affairs executive with a strong background in Space Law, Policy Analysis & Advocacy, Legal Compliance, Politics, and International Relations.

Will Heltsley

Propulsion expert and was VP of Propulsion at SpaceX at the end of his 12 year tenure at the company. Direct contributions to all SpaceX boost engines including Merlin and Raptor, as well as additive manufacturing.

Peter Russell-Clarke

World-renowned industrial designer instrumental in the design of Apple’s iPhones, iPads, Macs, and Apple Watches, as well as environments such as Apple’s stores and HQ, and materials and processes.

Yang Li

Previous Avionics Lead for SpaceX Dragon. Currently at Apple leading the user design and validation of the Apple Vision Pro, and previously at Waymo as the Self-Driving System Architect.

Engineering spotlight

Jake Burnett
Senior Test Technician

Supported the Dragon Production Testing department at SpaceX for nearly a decade as a test technician and test specialist directly supporting Demo-1 & -2, Crew-1 thru -7, Inspiration4, and Axiom-1 & -2.

Michelle Carlomusto
Mechanical Engineer II

Supported requirements development and design of a crewed transportation system at Virgin Hyperloop. Designed and managed the build of tooling to support all Launcher One production activity at Virgin Orbit.

Leslie Cottingham
Staff Thermal Engineer

Responsible engineer for SpaceX's Crew Dragon and Cargo Dragon thermal control system, supporting 8 different missions including Demo-2, Crew-1 & -2, Inspiration4, CRS-12, and CRS-21 thru -23.

David Ferguson
Staff Engineer

Over a decade of experience at SpaceX as lead engineer on the Falcon 9, Cargo Dragon, Crew Dragon, and Starshield Flight Computers.

Jeremy Hollander
Principal Engineer, ECLSS

Over 15 years of experience at SpaceX leading Dragon ECLSS and TCS teams for Dragon 1 and 2, designing Merlin and Raptor engines, designing Draco thrusters, designing Dragon 1 TCS and propulsion systems, and serving as mission operator for various Dragon missions.

Eric Hultgren
Principal GNC Engineer

Over 15 years of experience at SpaceX designing critical GNC hardware and software for Falcon 1, Falcon 9, Cargo Dragon, and Crew Dragon.

Andrew Irby
Principal Life Support Systems Engineer

Supported the development of SpaceX's Crew Dragon and Cargo Dragon, and Paragon's Gateway HALO Module Environmental Control and Life Support System.

Brian Landis
Staff Engineer, Structures & Mechanisms

A decade of experience designing mechanisms for a variety of aerospace systems including human rated space vehicles at Blue Origin, space robotics systems at Maxar, and major portions of the Boeing 777 cargo systems.

Molly McCormick
Principal Engineer

15 years of experience in human and robotic spaceflight, including NASA’s certification of Crew Dragon, mission operations for multiple Cargo Dragon missions to the ISS, and Program Management for two lunar mission payloads at Honeybee Robotics.

Kevin Perez Castillo
Welder III

Responsible for welding and fabrication on SpaceX's Demo-1 & -2, Crew-1 thru -7, Inspiration4, and Axiom-1 & -2.

Christina Rader
Staff Mechanical Engineer

Supported the design, development, test, verification, and manufacturing production support of high performance avionics hardware for Virgin Orbit's Launcher One.

Sandy Simmons
Director, Software Reliability & Test

Led SpaceX’s Falcon software team for all crewed flights -- Demo-1, Crew-1 thru -7, Inspiration4, Axiom-1 & Axiom-2. Implemented software for all Falcon missions from 2012 thru September 2023 including Starlink, Dragon, and commercial spaceflight missions.

Sergei Tanygin
Director, Flight Dynamics & GNC

25 years of experience developing astrodynamics software and GNC systems, including core algorithms for STK, mission design, operations, and GNC algorithms for SpaceX's Falcon 9 launch vehicle and Starshield spacecraft.

Sam Throne
Staff Structures Engineer

Responsible for SpaceX's Falcon 9 second stage primary structure for the NASA Crew upgrades, Falcon Heavy thrust structure, Starship Super Heavy booster aft dome re-design, and various structural redesigns to comply with NASA standards.

Tyler Slone
Staff RF Engineer
Previous Employer(s): SpaceX 2012-2022

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat.

Bejay Magnusen
Manager, Haven Welding
Previous Employer(s): SpaceX 2012-2022

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat.

Richard Petras
Director, Avionics Software
Previous Employer(s): SpaceX 2012-2022

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat.