spaceconnect logo

Former JPL deputy director takes Monash role

A former deputy director of NASA’s famed Jet Propulsion Laboratory is set to join Monash University as professor of space innovation.

Larry D James, a retired US Air Force lieutenant general, will take up the new position on 1 June and will also work with the SmartSat CRC collaboration.

Enrico Palermo, the head of the Australian Space Agency, said the move builds on the longstanding space partnership between the United States and NASA.

“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.


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.


“The opportunities for Australia’s space sector are huge, and I hope to share my experience and knowledge with the talented teams at both institutions,” said Lt Gen James.

“I am also keen to strengthen my connections and share expertise with Defence Space Command and the Australian Space Agency.”

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

The news comes with both the commander overseeing the US Space Force’s Indo-Pacific team and the former Under Secretary of the US Air Force set to headline Space Connect’s Australian Space Summit & Exhibition tomorrow.

Kristyn E. Jones is one of the most senior figures involved in the US Space Force and recently oversaw the entire US Air Force’s annual budget of more than $205 billion.

As part of her role, she also directed the US Air Force’s strategy and policy development, weapons acquisition and technology investments while being the principal adviser to the Secretary of the Air Force, Frank Kendall.

Our event takes place on 28 and 29 May at the ICC in Sydney. To find out more and book tickets, click here.

Jones joins our line-up of headliners, including Virgin Galactic, the new head of Australia’s Space Command and the head of the Australian Space Agency.

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.

Receive the latest developments and updates on Australia’s space industry direct to your inbox. Subscribe today to Space Connect here.

Receive the latest developments and updates on Australia’s space industry direct to your inbox. Subscribe today to Space Connect.