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Former JPL big hitter picked for industry panel

iLAuNCH has appointed a former deputy director of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory to its new industry advisory panel.

Larry D. James, a retired US Air Force lieutenant general, is one of five recruits who will advise on “strategies and direction” within the global space industry.

It comes after the high-profile figure joined Monash University as a professor of space innovation.

The $180-million iLAuNCH trailblazer is a partnership between academic institutions and more than 20 industry partners that aims to accelerate the development of the space manufacturing sector.


iLAuNCH said the new panel would also advise on engagement, collaborative research, commercial opportunities, and workforce requirements to benefit the program.

Other new members include CSIRO’s Dr Kimberley Clayfield, Surrey Satellite Technology Limited’s Clive Oates, Space Industry Association of Australia non-executive director Dr Tim Parsons, and Breakthrough Victoria’s Eva Rodriguez Rodriguez.

The five will serve on the panel alongside existing contributors Professor Anna Moore, Professor Colin Hall, Darin Lovett and Joni Sytsma, while Dr Tim Parsons and Darin Lovett will serve as co-chairs.

“I am excited to co-lead the Industry Advisory Panel to boost iLAuNCH’s space tech commercialisation initiatives,” said Dr Parsons.


“Our panel is focused on helping to spin out sovereign space capability, and I am eager to see the benefits that will extend to various sectors beyond space.”

James’s appointment will be seen as a coup, given his storied international career.

The Jet Propulsion Laboratory is NASA’s research and development lab located in the foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains near Pasadena, California.

With an annual budget of more than US$2.4 billion, it employs 6,000 people and currently has 40 active missions.

It designed, built, and operated the United States’ first satellite, Explorer 1, which launched in 1958 and produced the first-ever scientific result from space.

Today, it is best known for investing in and pioneering a range of innovative technologies.

Enrico Palermo, the head of the Australian Space Agency, previously hailed James, arguing his move boosted the longstanding space partnership between the United States and Australia.

“Lieutenant General James brings a wealth of experience in daring mighty things at JPL, which will help steer and elevate the work of SmartSat CRC and Monash University – driving further growth and investment across Australia’s space industry,” he said.

Lt Gen James only retired from his role as deputy director and chief operating officer of JPL in March after an 11-year stint.

iLAuNCH said immediate opportunities for the panel include the launch of the partnership’s new Space Accelerator, slated for July, alongside the Future Skills Development program.

The Space Accelerator is dedicated to Space Launch and includes funding for short-term projects, while the Future Skills Development program aims to address the sector’s skill shortage.

Adam Thorn

Adam Thorn

Adam is a journalist who has worked for more than 40 prestigious media brands in the UK and Australia. Since 2005, his varied career has included stints as a reporter, copy editor, feature writer and editor for publications as diverse as Fleet Street newspaper The Sunday Times, fashion bible Jones, media and marketing website Mumbrella as well as lifestyle magazines such as GQ, Woman’s Weekly, Men’s Health and Loaded. He joined Momentum Media in early 2020 and currently writes for Australian Aviation and World of Aviation.

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