Space industry veteran Tiphaine Louradour is taking the helm as CEO of Spaceflight Inc., a launch and in-space transportation services provider based in Bellevue, Wash.
She succeeds Curt Blake, who has served as Spaceflight CEO and president since 2013. Blake guided the company through a dynamic period in the rise of the satellite rideshare market - a period that included the company's acquisition by Japan's Mitsui & Co. and Yamasa Co. in 2020 and the development of the Sherpa orbital transfer vehicle for satellite deployment in low Earth orbit, or LEO.
Louradour has 25 years of experience as a business leader, with more than 15 years of that experience in the space industry. She was president of International Launch Services starting in 2020 - and previously served in a variety of executive roles at United Launch Alliance, including president of global commercial sales.
In a news release, Louradour said she was excited to join Spaceflight Inc. "My goal in leading this organization is to build on its groundbreaking achievements and expand the launch and on-orbit service offerings beyond LEO," she said. "I'm very much looking forward to working with the team, as well as its customers and partners, to continue to evolve Spaceflight and especially its Sherpa OTV program into its next phase of growth."
Since its founding in 2011, Spaceflight has been a pioneer in making arrangements for small satellites to ride into orbit as secondary payloads on a wide range of launch vehicles. The company has executed 55 missions on behalf of its customers, with 463 spacecraft taken to space. Its most recent mission involved sending up four Kleos Space satellites on last month's SpaceX Transporter 6 launch.
The satellite rideshare market is becoming increasingly competitive, but Louradour told GeekWire that Spaceflight's decade of experience and its range of launch options offer key advantages. "I believe there are business cases today that may not fully exist yet, that we are going to enable because of what we can offer and what we've started offering with Sherpa," she said.
Louradour said the key will be to "align what those additional services and opportunities are to truly meet our customers' needs."
Some of those services are likely to involve the Sherpa-ES, a space tug capable of deploying payloads in lunar orbit or geosynchronous equatorial orbit. "There's a market there," Louradour said. "There are a lot of activities that are progressing toward supporting cislunar activities."
Blake will support the transition for the next several weeks. Then he'll provide consulting for Mitsui & Co.'s space group, and give legal and strategic counsel to other companies in the space industry.
"Over the last decade, the team at Spaceflight has led the industry in identifying and creating launch services that enabled hundreds of satellites from commercial entities, government agencies and universities to reach orbit," Blake said in an emailed statement. "It's humbling to reflect on how the innovative, groundbreaking work of our team changed how organizations get their spacecraft on orbit."
Blake said he and his teammates at Spaceflight "helped make rideshare to space a standard practice."
"I'm excited to see how their work, especially on the Sherpa OTV program, will continue to drive the industry forward and enable complex, innovative missions," Blake said.
Kensuke Kubota, Mitsui general manager and chairman of Spaceflight's board of directors, paid tribute to Blake's contributions and said he was thrilled to welcome Louradour to the company.
"She possesses the passion, industry expertise, strategic leadership skills and collaborative relationship-building prowess to create an even greater, more successful Spaceflight organization going forward," Kubota said.
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