Armed With Science

Space Development Agency Gets First Permanent Director

Oct. 28, 2019

Defense Department officials today announced the selection of Derek Tournear as the first permanent director of the Space Development Agency. 

The Space Development Agency logo.
The Space Development Agency logo
The Space Development Agency logo.
Photo By: DOD graphic
VIRIN: 191028-D-ZZ999-001

Established in March, the SDA is responsible for unifying and integrating DOD's space development efforts, monitoring the department's threat-driven future space architecture and accelerating the fielding of new military space capabilities necessary to ensure U.S. technological and military advantages in space.

To achieve this mission, SDA is defining the National Defense Space Architecture — an integrated, coherent architecture capable of addressing the eight critical, yet unmet, priorities of the DOD Space Vision.

A man sits at the head of a table flanked by reporters.
Media Roundtable
Derek Tournear, acting director of the Space Development Agency, takes part in a media roundtable during the Air Force Association’s annual meeting in National Harbor, Md., Sept. 18, 2019.
Photo By: DOD
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To address these eight priorities, the future National Defense Space Architecture will include a proliferated satellite constellation consisting of six space layers and one ground layer. SDA will orchestrate and unify those efforts across the department, and fill capability gaps while ensuring an integrated architecture.

''Our strategy is to unify efforts across the military services and government agencies to rapidly develop capabilities that are responsive to the threat, are cost-effective, and increase our technological advantage,'' said Michael Griffin, the undersecretary of defense for research and engineering. ''Derek will lead our effort to achieve those goals.''

Rocket sits on launch pad.
Launch Prep
Space and Missile Systems Center’s Advanced Extreme High Frequency encapsulated satellite mates with an Atlas V launch vehicle as it rolls out in preparation for launch at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla., Aug 6, 2019.
Photo By: Van Ha, Air Force
VIRIN: 190806-F-DC888-004D

Tournear most recently served as the assistant director for space at DOD's research and engineering office. He previously served as the senior scientist for space activities and space technologies in the Office of Smart Collection at the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity, and as a program manager at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. He also has professional experience at Los Alamos National Laboratory and spent time working in research and development for the industry. Tournear has a Ph.D. in physics from Stanford University and a bachelor’s from Purdue University.