What’s it like running a $11 billion dollar space business at a publicly traded company and managing a team of nearly 22,000? We get the answers to those questions and a whole lot more with Robert Lightfoot, the executive vice president of Lockheed Martin Space and former acting NASA administrator.
What’s it like running a $11 billion dollar space business at a publicly traded company and managing a team of nearly 22,000? Or what about building the Orion spacecraft that just finished a 25-day trip around the Moon, and will carry astronauts on its next mission? In Pathfinder #0028, we’ll get the answers to those questions and a whole lot more with Robert Lightfoot, the executive vice president of Lockheed Martin Space and former acting NASA administrator.
Today’s episode is brought by Altek Space, which provides custom manufacturing of essential parts and components for rockets and satellites (including SmallSats). Find out more at https://www.altek-inc.com/space
Robert leads the LM Space business, which is one of the four major divisions of its parent company. The $11 billion business line builds space technology systems for defense, civil, and commercial space customers. Its portfolio ranges from integrated systems for satellites to space-based missile defense capabilities to space observatories to interplanetary robotic spacecraft.
Robert became EVP of LM Space on Jan. 1, 2022, so he’s coming up on his one-year anniversary. Prior to Lockheed, Robert spent 29 years at NASA, holding a variety of leadership roles and rising up the ranks to become associate administrator, the highest ranking civil service position at the agency. He served as the 11th director of NASA Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama.
Though Robert is from Alabama, went to Bama, and led one of NASA’s key centers in the state, somehow we didn’t cover college football at all. But we did cover:
- An Artemis I postmortem and Orion’s performance during the mission
- Leading large organizations, first in the government and then at a Fortune 500 company
- “Protect, connect, and explore” as organizational guideposts
- Building space hardware at scale
- Recruiting and the importance of talent
3:51 Starting in space
10:25 Engineer to leader
19:30 Artemis I and Orion
31:52 LM Space’s portfolio…”protect, connect, and explore”
41:05 Being part of a public company
46:19 Cost-plus vs. fixed-price contracts
49:00 Future projects you’re excited about
54:32 Lightning round