Rocket propulsion developer Ursa Major has named Will Roper, former assistant secretary for acquisition, technology and logistics at the U.S. Air Force, to the company’s board of directors.
He joins the venture-backed startup company as he aims to help the industry bridge an innovation gap between commercial and national security missions, Ursa Major said Wednesday.
“Partnering with commercial companies was a passion of mine at the Air Force. AFWERX, Pitch Days, and other acquisition reforms were meant to bring exciting companies like Ursa Major into partnership with the government,” Roper noted.
Joe Laurienti, Ursa Major founder and CEO, said the company is developing a propulsion system for potential use in space and hypersonic platforms.
Roper managed USAF’s more than $60 billion annual budget for research, development and acquisition programs from February 2018 to January 2021.
He previously focused on projects to repurpose or extend the shelf-life of commercial and government equipment as the founding director of the Department of Defense’s Strategic Capabilities Office, which has pursued work on multipurpose missiles, smartphone-operated weapons and standoff arsenal planes.
Prior to SCO, Roper served as chief architect at the Missile Defense Agency on an acting basis and led the development of 11 systems such as the European defense architecture. For more than four years, he also worked as the missile defense adviser to the DOD-sponsored research and development center MIT Lincoln Laboratory.