Space Acquisition Forum

Space Acquisition Forum

January 19th, 2022 9:00am EST   ON24

During the past decade, low-earth-orbit and outer space has transformed from a primarily scientific domain into a critical defense and commercial one with tremendous national security implications. 

The Department of Defense (DOD) has recognized the military necessity to dominate the space domain and has committed significant resources into space technology acquisition to preserve our nation’s space preeminence. 

During GovConWire’s Space Acquisition Forum, distinguished federal and industry leaders will discuss aligning space acquisition goals along with acquisition reform and modernization.

Featuring Brig. Gen. Steve Whitney, Assistant Secretary (Acting), Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Space Acquisition and Integration [SAF/SQ], as keynote speaker. He will address the value of an integrated space architecture and the importance of synchronization and integration for space capabilities. 

Join our event to learn more about how commercial industry can assist the DOD in securing the nation’s future in outer space and beyond.




  • Johnathon Caldwell
    Johnathon Caldwell - Panelist
    VP of Business Innovation, Transformation, and Enterprise Excellence, Lockheed Martin Space

    Johnathon Caldwell is the Vice President of Business Innovation Transformation & Enterprise Excellence for Lockheed Martin Space. Mr. Caldwell ensures the business is effectively governing and utilizing information as an asset, guides data analytics and artificial intelligence capabilities, and drives data- related business direction with speed and agility. He is the lead voice for coordinating and communicating data and analytics strategy with senior executives, as well as embedding cultural transformation initiatives across the Space enterprise. He is responsible for creating value and shaping enterprise strategy by applying innovation capabilities to continuously understand, track and predict what our customers value as market trends and competitive landscapes change. Mr. Caldwell serves on the Space Executive Leadership Team and reports directly to Rick Ambrose, Executive Vice President of Space. The Space CIO position is matrixed into Mr. Caldwell and includes value-added affordability, program resiliency for classified and unclassified processes and infrastructure. Previously, Mr. Caldwell served as Vice President of the Navigation Systems mission area within Lockheed Martin’s Military Space line of business. In this role, he was responsible for the company’s advanced Positioning, Navigation and Timing (PNT) mission solutions, including the Global Positioning System III (GPS III) and GPS III Follow On (GPS IIIF) satellites, as well as the GPS Operational Control Segment (OCS) upgrade and GPS Sustainment programs. These evolutionary systems are improving PNT services for civilian and military users, and delivering advanced anti-jam capabilities, yielding superior system security, accuracy and reliability, to our warfighters. Mr. Caldwell’s career includes a series of progressive leadership roles within the Navigation Systems and Overhead Persistent InfraRed (OPIR) mission areas including Program Management, Space Segment Director, and Chief Engineer responsible for the overall GPS III Space Vehicle, as well as roles in Program Management, Payloads, Systems Engineering, and Supply Chain, developing and delivering space and ground systems for the Space Based InfraRed Systems (SBIRS) missile warning missions. As a Guidance Navigation and Controls (GN&C) and Avionics engineer, he supported production and flight operations of Commercial Communications satellites as well as MILSTAR and DSCS protected communications systems and led Independent Research and Development (IRAD) for guidance sensors. Mr. Caldwell holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Aerospace Engineering from the University of Colorado (1996). He is a graduate of Lockheed Martin’s Leadership Excellence & Development Program, Program Management Development Program and Executive Development & Growth Enhancement Program, as well as a two-time recipient of the Lockheed Martin Corporate NOVA Award, which recognizes individuals and teams for their exceptional contribution to the company’s mission and business objectives.

  • Laura DeSimone
    Laura DeSimone - Panelist
    Executive Director (Acting), Missile Defense Agency (MDA)

    Ms. Laura M. DeSimone serves as the Executive Director for the Missile Defense Agency (MDA), Office of the Secretary of Defense. She is the senior civilian advisor to the MDA Director on all issues relating to operational and management activities for MDA’s $9B+ per year portfolio. Ms. DeSimone provides oversight, leadership, direction and guidance to ensure the effective organization and integration of all programs and functions required to develop, test and sustain an effective Missile Defense program. She also serves as a key interface to the Office of the Secretary of Defense, the Services, and the Congress. Ms. DeSimone served from 2014 to October 2020 as the MDA Director for Acquisition, the senior advisor and leader for all aspects of acquisition and contract planning and management for the programs that are integrated into a single Missile Defense System to provide a layered missile defense capability. She held the position of Program Executive for Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD) and was responsible for the planning, programming and execution of the design, development, integration, test, deployment, and sustainment of Aegis BMD Programs – a $2B+ per year portfolio, which includes all variants of the Standard Missile-3 and Aegis BMD Weapon System baselines. From 2011-2013, Ms. DeSimone served as Deputy Program Executive, Aegis BMD. Ms. DeSimone was appointed to the Senior Executive Service in 2008. From 2008-2011, Ms. DeSimone served as Executive Director, Naval Ordnance Safety and Security Activity and the Deputy for Weapons Safety, Naval Sea Systems Command. In this position, Ms. DeSimone was the Department of Navy (DON) senior authority on all technical, scientific, and engineering methodologies associated with weapon and explosives safety afloat and ashore. Additionally, Ms. DeSimone was the Chair of the DON Weapon Systems Explosives Safety Review Board, the Navy’s independent oversight for safety compliance of all Navy and Marine Corps military munitions, ordnance items, explosive systems, weapon systems, and combat systems. Previous assignments include Deputy Head, Engagement Systems Department, Naval Surface Warfare Center (NSWC) Dahlgren, Virginia, where she provided leadership and technical direction for 600 scientists, engineers, and technical support personnel; and Head, Test and Evaluation Division, NSWC Dahlgren, where she provided technical direction and management oversight for all explosive test and evaluation operations performed on an extensive complex of land, air, and water test ranges. From 1990 to 2005 she held a variety of engineering and senior program management positions in development and acquisition of Navy and Marine Corps weapon systems. Ms. DeSimone holds a B.S. in physics from Ursinus College and a M.S. in mechanical engineering from Penn State University. Ms. DeSimone is a member of the DoD Acquisition Professional Community and a graduate of both the DoD Executive Leadership Development Program and the Federal Executive Institute’s Leadership in a Democratic Society Program. Ms. DeSimone has been recognized with the Presidential Rank Award (Meritorious), Secretary of Defense Medal for Meritorious Civilian Service Award, Navy Superior Civilian Service Award, and Navy Meritorious Civilian Service Award (two awards).

  • David Ray
    David Ray - Moderator
    SVP, Space Business Unit, SAIC

    David Ray is senior vice president and lead for the Space Business Unit within the National Security & Space Sector for SAIC. In this role, he is responsible for leading the $1.3 billion Space Business Unit with customers spanning the intelligence, defense, and federal/civil agencies. Ray joined SAIC in 2021 with a wealth of experience in both managing and growing large technology businesses that serve government customers around the world. Prior to his current position, Ray served as president of the Government and Defense Business Unit at FLIR Systems, Inc. where was responsible for leading all aspects of the $900 million business unit, including strategy, research and development, operations, business development, and marketing. Ray has held several leadership roles in general management and business development at Raytheon Company from 2002 to 2017. His most recent role with the company was as vice president, Global Business Development and Strategy for the company's $6 billion Intelligence, Information, and Services Segment, serving intelligence, Department of Defense, federal/civilian agencies, and international customer markets. He also previously served in many leadership positions of increasing authority for Raytheon Missile Systems (RMS) and Space & Airborne Systems (SAS) businesses during his 16- year tenure with Raytheon. Prior to this, he began his career as a senior management consultant at Booz Allen Hamilton. Ray received a Bachelor of Science degree in business management from the U.S. Air Force Academy and served five years in the Air Force at Andrews Air Force Base and the Pentagon where he led teams responsible for communications-related projects designed to support senior members of the government and military. He also earned a Master of Science degree in systems management and strategy from Central Michigan University.

  • Michael Roberts
    Michael Roberts - Panelist
    Director and Program Executive Officer, Space Rapid Capabilities Office

    Michael W. Roberts, a member of the Senior Executive Service, is the Director and Program Executive Officer (PEO) for the Space Rapid Capabilities Office (Space RCO), Kirtland Air Force Base, New Mexico. As Space RCO’s senior acquisition officer, Mr. Roberts is responsible for and oversees space-based research, development and acquisition activities for classified space acquisition programs assigned to the Space RCO. In this position, Mr. Roberts serves as the principal advisor to the Secretary of the Air Force and the Chief of Space Operations, United States Space Force for the rapid development and fielding of classified critical space capabilities. In his PEO capacity, he is responsible for a robust portfolio of major acquisition programs providing operationally dominant space capabilities that strategically enhance the Nation’s warfighting capabilities and dominance in the space domain. Mr. Roberts was appointed to the Senior Executive Service in 2017. In his previous position as the Director for Development and Integration, PEO Information Warfare System (IWS), Mr. Roberts managed the system requirements and resources for combat systems, associated elements, and facilitated the execution of effective systems engineering processes for development, integration, and delivery of Navy Surface Combat System capabilities. Mr. Roberts’ diverse and challenging career spans 25 years in support of the United States Navy, United States Air Force and United States Space Force as a veteran, engineer and acquisition professional. The past fifteen years, his career focus has been on acquisition, combat and weapon system engineering, design, testing, fielding and sustainment. He has held various senior Program Manager positions within the acquisition community.

  • Derek Tournear
    Dr. Derek Tournear - Panelist
    Director, Space Development Agency, U.S. Department of Defense (DOD)

    Dr. Derek Tournear is currently the Director of the Space Development Agency, within the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Research & Engineering (OUSD(R&E)). SDA will unify and integrate space capability development and deployment across the department to achieve the DoD space vision while reducing overlap and inefficiency. He previously served as the Assistant Director for Space, responsible for developing the research and engineering roadmap to address future gaps in the DoD space architecture. Dr. Tournear previously held leadership roles in industry, most recently the director for the Harris Space & Intelligence (SIS) research & development. SIS was a $2B business focused on providing advanced technical solutions addressing the top National Security threats from underwater to outer space. Prior to industry, Dr. Derek Tournear was a Senior Program Manager (SNIS-HQE) at the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity (IARPA) in the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI). At IARPA, Dr. Tournear served as a senior scientist for space activities and space technologies in the Office of Smart Collection. Prior to IARPA, Dr. Tournear was a Program Manager for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), Tactical Technology Office and Strategic Technology Office. At DARPA, he initiated and directed a large portfolio of program, with an emphasis on sensors and space. He has professional experience at Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) managing intelligence and defense programs. During his time at LANL, he initiated a new field of study in gamma ray optics, and developed sensors for nuclear material detection. Dr. Tournear has a Ph.D. in physics from Stanford University and a B.S. from Purdue University. In 2010 he received an “Outstanding Alumnus” award from Purdue University and a 2008 DARPA award for “Outstanding Accomplishments in a Systems Technology Area.” Dr. Tournear is a 2011 recipient of the Secretary of Defense Medal for Exceptional Public Service, and a 2012 recipient of the Office of Director of National Intelligence Award for Exceptional Public Service.

  • Brig. Gen. Steve Whitney
    Brig. Gen. Steve Whitney - Keynote
    Director Space Programs, Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics SAF/SQ, U.S. Air Force

    Brig. Gen. Steve Whitney is the Military Deputy, Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Space Acquisition and Integration, Headquarters U.S. Air Force, the Pentagon, Arlington, Virginia. He is responsible for research and development, test, production, product support and modernization of Space Force programs worth more than $15 billion annually. His responsibilities include crafting program strategies and options for representing Department of the Air Force positions to the Office of the Secretary of Defense, Congress and the White House. Brig. Gen. Whitney graduated in 1992 from the University of Minnesota with a Bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering and completed the university’s Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps program as a distinguished graduate. Through the years, he has served in a wide variety of space system acquisition and operations leadership positions within the Air Force, Joint Staff, Office of the Secretary of Defense, and National Reconnaissance Office. Prior to his current position, Brig. Gen. Whitney’s assignments included serving as a Crew Commander, Spacecraft Engineer, Senior Flight Commander, Program Element Monitor, Director of Engineering, Squadron Commander, Senior Materiel Leader, Program Director and Program Executive Officer.

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