2022 CSF Award Winners Announced in Recognition of Milestone Accomplishments in Commercial Space

WASHINGTON, D.C.  February 2, 2022 (CSF PR) – The Commercial Spaceflight Federation (CSF) announced today individual and organization winners of awards in recognition of milestone accomplishments in commercial space. The 2022 winners are:

  • Senator John Hickenlooper (D-CO) for The Commercial Space Policy Awardrecognizes a policymaker who has made significant and lasting contributions over the past year to the advancement of commercial space policy.
  • Blue Origin New Shepard Team for The Commercial Space Pioneer Award: recognizes outstanding technical contributions over the past year that has enabled commercial access to space.
  • Elon Musk, SpaceX, for The Commercial Space Business & Finance Awardrecognizes an investor, financier, or benefactor of commercial space activities whose support has benefited the industry as a whole.
  • Jeff Foust, SpaceNews, for The Excellence in Commercial Space Journalism Awardrecognizes a member of the media who has published critical stories on commercial space, contributed to expanding public awareness of the industry, and demonstrated the highest levels of journalistic integrity.
  • The Future Space Leaders Foundation for The Patti Grace Smith STEM Awardrecognizes a student, teacher, or program who/that has demonstrated a commitment to scientific excellence and the expansion of knowledge for the next generation of commercial space pioneers.
  • Tim Hughes, SpaceX  and Clay Mowry, Voyager Space Holdings, for The James Kuzma Space Community Award: recognizes outstanding contributions to the commercial space industry through advocacy and community building.
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Tommy Stafford Leaves Commercial Spaceflight Federation for Blue Origin

Tommy Stafford

WASHINGTON, DC (CSF PR) – Tommy Sanford, Executive Director of the Commercial Spaceflight Federation, is joining Blue Origin, effective January 31, 2022. Sanford has served as Executive Director of CSF since 2014.

“Tommy has been an integral part of this organization over the past eight years during a period of substantial industry growth,” said Karina Drees, President of CSF. “He has led a number of efforts to help shape CSF, but more importantly, to get the commercial spaceflight industry the attention it deserved on the Hill and within multiple Administrations. I am grateful for his contributions to the industry and to the organization, and congratulate him on his new role!”

CSF will be expanding the team to meet the legislative and advocacy priorities of its member companies. In the interim, Drees will handle policy and outreach for CSF.

Mojave Spaceport Names Todd Lindner as new CEO

Todd Lindner

MOJAVE, Calif. (MASP PR) — A new Chief Executive Officer will take the controls of the Mojave Air and Spaceport (MASP) in April.

Todd Lindner, former Director of the Jacksonville, Florida, Aviation Authority’s Cecil Spaceport , was selected by members of the Mojave Air and Spaceport board of directors from more than 100 applications.

A veteran pilot, Lindner will be the first person with airport management experience to manage the Mojave Air and Spaceport.

“With 30 years of aviation management experience, Todd Lindner understands the unique financial and operating requirements of an air and spaceport,” said Jim Balentine, president of the MASP board of directors. 

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Mojave Air and Space Port Selects New CEO

Mojave Air and Space Port (Credit: Douglas Messier)

MOJAVE, Calif. — A new Chief Executive Officer will take the controls of the Mojave Air and Space Port (MASP) in April.

Todd Lindner, former Director of the Jacksonville, Florida, Aviation Authority’s Cecil Spaceport, was selected by members of the Mojave Air and Spaceport board of directors from more than 100 applications.

A veteran pilot, Lindner will be the first person with airport management experience to manage the Mojave Air and Space Port.

“With 30 years of aviation management experience, Todd Lindner understands the unique financial and operating requirements of an air and spaceport,” said Jim Balentine, president of the MASP board of directors.

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Mojave Air & Space Port Appoints Interim CEO

Mojave Air and Space Port (Credit: Douglas Messier)

The Mojave Air and Space Port’s Board of Directors has appointed former board member David Evans as interim CEO to replace Karina Drees.

Evans will serve in the post under a consulting contract while the board searches for a permanent replacement for Drees, who is leaving the position on Jan. 4.

Evans resigned from the board in October after serving for more than six years. He was originally appointed to the board in April 2014 to replace Dick Rutan, who resigned to pursue a business opportunity.

Evans is a certified public accountant and principal in Evans & Company, Inc., of California City. He is a commercial pilot and licensed flight instructor.

Drees is moving to Washington, D.C., to serve as president of the Commercial Spaceflight Federation. She had served as CEO and general manager of the spaceport since January 2016. Prior to that, Drees served as deputy general manager under Stu Witt for three years.

Mojave Spaceport CEO Karina Drees to Become Commercial Spaceflight Federation President

Karina Drees

Washington, DC (CSF PR) – Commercial Spaceflight Federation announced today that Karina Drees will join the organization as its new president, effective January 4, 2021.

Since 2012, Drees served as CEO and General Manager of Mojave Air & Space Port (MASP) and held several other senior leadership positions at the company. She is currently the vice chair of the Federal Aviation Administration’s Commercial Space Transportation Advisory Committee (COMSTAC) and has been an active member of the CSF Board of Directors for five years, including serving as treasurer from 2017 to 2020.

“Karina brings an impressive amount of senior leadership and business acumen to CSF, as well as in-depth knowledge and experience in the policy and regulatory arenas and the proven ability to grow an organization and build strategic alliances with key industry stakeholders,” said Audrey Powers, CSF Chairwoman of the Board of Directors and Vice President of Legal and Compliance for Blue Origin.

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Karin Drees to Depart CEO Position at Mojave Air and Space Port

Karina Drees

MOJAVE, Calif. (MASP PR) – Mojave Air & Space Port’s CEO and General Manager Karina Drees has announced her departure in early 2021. The Board of Directors has begun the search for the air & space port’s next CEO. 

Drees intends to serve out the remaining months of her five-year contract and has committed to remaining in the position until the next CEO is chosen. Board Secretary Jim Balentine, MASP’s longest serving Director said “The airport has never been in a more stable financial position than under Karina’s leadership. I am grateful for her vision on growing the organization and her ability to execute the necessary objectives to achieve our goals.”

“The past eight years in Mojave have been the most rewarding of my career,” said Drees. “I am fortunate to work with an exceptional, service-oriented team that will ensure our customers receive quality care during this transition.”

The posting for the CEO position can be found on mojaveairport.com and will remain open until November 13, 2020. “The Board understands the unique qualities and qualifications necessary to fill this role,” said Balentine. “We are dedicated to growing our economic engine in East Kern County by providing an environment where business and innovation can thrive.”

Mojave Spaceport Accepts $1.36 Million From FAA for Taxiway B Extension

Taxiway B at the Mojave Air and Space Port. (Credit: Google Maps)

The Mojave Air and Space Port’s Board of Directors on Tuesday voted to accept a grant totaling $1,364,086 from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for a 600-foot extension of Taxiway B. The grant is larger than the $1.05 million announced by Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao on Aug. 3.

The board also approved an application to the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) for a matching grant of up to 5 percent of the project’s total. The maximum amount received would be $68,024; however, CalTrans might cap the award at $25,000.

If the full state matching grant is awarded, total outside funding for the project would amount to $1,432,110.

The board also awarded three contracts for the taxiway extension:

  • Granite Construction: $1,099,135
  • RB Development (lighting): $53,263
  • Aviation Striping (painting): $19,085.

Mojave Airport CEO Karina Drees said the grants would pay for a 600-foot extension of the taxiway. The extension would allow for the construction of an additional hangar to the west of Virgin Galactic’s FAITH facility.

The airport hoped to extend the taxiway even further with a turnaround  at the end for aircraft. However, the FAA grant is insufficient to allow for the completion of the taxiway.











Obama Signs Law to Prevent Encroachments on Nation’s Spaceports

us_spaceports_2016
President Barack Obama has signed into law a measure that will help the nation’s growing legion of spaceports fight the encroachment of obstacles such as transmission lines that could endanger suborbital spacecraft.

The measure, sponsored by House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), was inspired by a problem experienced by the Mojave Air and Space Port, which is in the Congressman’s district. A utility company built extra tall transmission towers near the airport, sparking safety concerns among officials there.

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Stu Witt Retires From Mojave Spaceport in Style

Stu Witt (center) stands with Congressman Kevin McCarthy, X Prize Chairman Peter Diamandis, Virgin Galactic CEO George Whitesides and others in front of a replica of SpaceShipOne. (Credit: Douglas Messier)
Stu Witt (center) stands with Congressman Kevin McCarthy, X Prize Chairman Peter Diamandis, Virgin Galactic CEO George Whitesides and others in front of a replica of SpaceShipOne. (Credit: Douglas Messier)

By Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

They came to Mojave from near and far — from the dusty desert communities of Lancaster, Boron and Ridgecrest to the snow swept tundra of Sweden — to send Stu Witt off in style. One of the most powerful men in Washington, D.C. played hooky from Congress to wish his friend a happy retirement.

Hundreds of people gathered on Jan. 8 to mark the end of Witt’s nearly 14-year term as CEO and general manager of the Mojave Air and Space Port. The event featured a reception and a long parade of friends and colleagues singing his praises.

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New Mojave Spaceport CEO to Address AV Business Outlook Conference

Katrina Drees
Katrina Drees

LANCASTER, Calif. (AVBOT PR) — Karina Drees, who will assume duties as CEO and General Manager of Mojave Air & Space Port in January, will be among regional business and industry leaders to speak at the Antelope Valley Business Outlook Conference on Feb. 26, 2016.

Drees, Deputy General Manager of MASP, has been named to succeed CEO Stu Witt upon his retirement at year end.

Drees, 39, joined the Mojave Air & Spaceport management in July 2012 as director of business development, and was advanced to the post of deputy general manager a year later. She worked with the Mojave Air and Spaceport in 2007 in developing an access-to-space plan for commercial operations of the new space transportation vehicles under development in Mojave.

Prior to joining the Mojave Air and Space Port, Drees had more than 12 years’ experience in strategy and business development, occupying management positions for growing technology companies.

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Karina Drees Named New CEO of Mojave Spaceport

Katrina Drees
Katrina Drees

MOJAVE, Calif. — Mojave Air and Space Port Deputy General Manager Karina Drees has been named to replace outgoing General Manager/CEO Stu Witt, who is retiring on Jan 15.

The spaceport’s Board of Directors approved the appointment of Drees in a closed session meeting on Tuesday afternoon.

Drees, 39, joined the spaceport as director of business development on July 1, 20o12. She was appointed deputy general manager in August 2013.

Director Allen Peterson said the board concluded Drees was the best candidate to take over the spaceport and civilian flight test center in California’s High Desert after a very systematic search process.

Prior to coming to Mojave, Drees had worked for more than 12 years in strategy and business development in growing technology companies rranging from startups to large public corporations. Her most recent position had been as a member of the strategy and positioning team for SRA International, a large defense contractor in Fairfax, Virg.

Drees lives in Mojave with her husband Todd and their one-year old son, Max.
Witt will be ending a nearly 14 year stint as head of the airport. He is widely viewed as having been a strong leader who built the former Marine Corps base into one of the world’s leading civilian test centers. In addition to the National Test Pilot School, Mojave boast leading edge space companies, including Virgin Galactic, Stratolaunch, Masten Space Systems and XCOR Aerospace.











Mojave Spaceport Moves Forward With Fitness Center Project

Interior of the Stuart O. Witt Event Center. (Credit: Douglas Messier)
Interior of the Stuart O. Witt Event Center. (Credit: Douglas Messier)

A fitness center could open inside the Mojave Air and Space Port’s Stuart O. Witt Event Center in November if all goes well, officials said on Tuesday.

The spaceport’s Board of Directors approved spending up to $60,000 on improvements required to prepare an unfinished portion of the building to host a fitness center. The improvements will include heating, air conditioning, electrical work, lighting, flooring and ceiling insulation.

Mojave CEO and General Manager Stu Witt said a fitness company has signed a letter of intent to lease the space once it is set for occupancy.

Deputy General Manager Karina Drees said the fitness center would be open to employees at the airport as well as members of the general public. The company is taking some risk coming up to Mojave, so it wants as many members as possible.

The unnamed company is looking to sign a five-year lease to rent the space.

The event center and the fitness club are part of the airport’s tenant retention program. The event center has been used to host special events and company all-hands meetings.











New Mojave Spaceport Promotional Video is a Big Hit With the Kids

By Douglas Messier
Parabolic Arc Managing Editor

When Karina Drees screened the Mojave Air and Space Port’s new promotional video at the recent SpaceVision 2012 conference in Buffalo, a number of viewers noted something unusual: the almost total lack of animation.

The people in Mojave are building real hardware. And flying vehicles. Like..now! Not in like five years’ time.

That was a good thing to hear from the college students who attended the conference, which was sponsored by the Students for the Exploration and Development of Space. Drees, who is the Mojave spaceport’s director of business development, had gone to the conference to promote the spaceport and to recruit future interns.  And she found them very excited to learn about all the interesting things going on in Mojave.

The new video, which was produced by Robin Snelson, also has received kudos from the Mojave airport staff and its board of directors. General Manager Stu Witt noted that the video showed the faces of the young generation of aerospace workers working in Mojave.