Payload Pioneers 2023: Marilee Jooste

Marilee Jooste is a testament to the fact that talent in the space industry can come from anywhere. 

The 28-year-old operations manager got an unconventional start in space, working in film and TV development before becoming employee #1 and manager of operations at Outpost, a reusable satellite manufacturing company.

(She also wrote a space newsletter for friends and family called Space Clubb. We may be biased, but that’s pretty cool.)

Return to Earth: Outpost is working on developing a returnable satellite platform to help reduce the waste left in orbit and make satellite operations more cost-effective. Jooste’s achievements in her two years as operations manager have left a major impact on the organization, according to Jason Dunn, the company’s cofounder.

“In less than two years she has deftly juggled managing multi-million dollar awards with NASA and the Department of Defense, growing a multi-specialty team to twenty team members, and overseeing the buildout of Outpost’s manufacturing site,” Dunn wrote. In a year, that manufacturing site ramped up to full operations and delivered two satellites.

The company’s mission of sustainability, along with a long-held love of space, compels Jooste to push forward at Outpost. “We cannot treat our atmosphere and orbit like we do our oceans,” Jooste said. “We cannot just dump our trash everywhere. I believe that we are at the point of humanity where sustainability must be at the core of what we do, in all industries.”

Space for everyone: Jooste is proud of her impact as a woman in the male-dominated space industry, and advocates for a more diverse future for humanity’s presence in space.

“The space industry is all about crazy ideas. We are making sci-fi into reality,” Jooste said. “These new ideas require new perspectives. Young people of all backgrounds and identities are going to break the mold and propel the industry into the future by thinking outside of the box and refusing to follow the standard, traditional practices of ‘old space.’”

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