Executive Spotlight: An Interview With Tim Gillespie, VP of Business Development at SSL, A Maxar Technologies Company

ExecutiveBiz talked with Tim Gillespie, vice president of business development for national programs, about SSL’s recent space initiatives, current technological capabilities and relationship supporting the U.S. Air Force.

“Our focus is to ensure that the U.S. government maintains superiority in space, which is becoming an increasingly contested environment. SSL is at the forefront of disruptive space technologies that accelerate innovation and enable military and intelligence operations in increasingly challenging mission environments.”

ExecutiveBiz: Can you tell us a little bit about your role within SSL, a Maxar Technologies company?

Tim Gillespie: Maxar Technologies was established last year, following the acquisition of DigitalGlobe. The formation of Maxar established a vertically-integrated commercial space portfolio with end-to-end capabilities spanning across spacecraft manufacturing, communications, satellite servicing, geospatial imagery and analysis, remote sensing and space robotics. As vice president of business development for national programs, I am focused on leveraging these capabilities and our entrepreneurial culture to deliver cost-effective, resilient and persistent solutions to our defense and intelligence community customers.

ExecutiveBiz: From what we understand, you have a lot of space expertise. How do you draw on it to support SSL?

Tim Gillespie: I joined SSL last year after learning about its strong reputation as a leader in commercial satellites, remote sensing, space robotics and on-orbit servicing technologies. My passion is supporting customers across the defense and intelligence agencies and departments of the U.S. government. I was immediately able to apply my 30-plus years of aerospace and defense experience across space, ground, launch, cyber and services to leverage the full capability of Maxar to provide end-to-end mission-enabling solutions.

Before joining SSL, I was the vice president of transformational programs and national security for the Engility Corporation, where I led business development for the DoD and intelligence agencies. Prior to that, I spent seven years with Northrop Grumman as an account director for its classified and advanced technology customers, and two decades with Lockheed Martin focused on developing and delivering next-generation space and launch systems.

ExecutiveBiz: How is SSL differentiating itself from the competition for U.S. government work?

Tim Gillespie: Our focus is to ensure that the U.S. government maintains superiority in space, which is becoming an increasingly contested environment. SSL is at the forefront of disruptive space technologies that accelerate innovation and enable military and intelligence operations in increasingly challenging mission environments. A case in point is our leadership in space operations using highly autonomous, robotically-enabled systems to service legacy systems and dynamically reconfigure next-generation ones. This unprecedented space agility completely changes the way that operators maintain their current fleets and deploy future space architectures.

As a leader in commercial spacecraft manufacturing, SSL focuses on driving adoption and deployment of the highest quality systems at a much faster pace, including solutions for remote sensing, big data exploitation and space robotics. This focus has, among other things, enabled us to maintain our position as a global leader in commercial communications satellites with an outstanding on-orbit availability, in an extremely cost-competitive environment. We maximize our commercial “speed to need” to help government enterprises meet their most critical space systems challenges with confidence.

ExecutiveBiz: SSL recently won a contract award with the U.S. Air Force to study next-generation space architectures for its Space Enterprise Vision. Can you tell us about that?

Tim Gillespie: SSL is leveraging Maxar’s experience in developing advanced space architectures and systems to provide the U.S. Air Force a fundamentally different architecture. Serviceable and dynamically reconfigurable space systems increase the resilience and cost-effectiveness of our future space architecture to mitigate emerging threats. Think in terms of how we modify airborne systems today to adapt to the evolving threat environment. Providing U.S. space systems with post-launch mission flexibility changes the resilience calculus, providing a decisive U.S. advantage.

Enabling technologies include advanced space infrastructure assembly and servicing and autonomy, affordable access to space for sensor proliferation and payload disaggregation, commercial data processing, and agile, reconfigurable satellites with the capability to support a broad range of missions. We believe that the combination of these technologies, supplemented by a resilient ground enterprise, will enable the U.S. Air Force to maintain its leadership in space.

Our national and global security depends on the operational continuity and resilience of our space assets, and we’re proud to be trusted by the U.S. Air Force to envision and provide a roadmap for a resilient space architecture.

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Prior to joining SSL, Tim Gillespie worked for the Engility Corporation as vice president of transformational programs. He has also held positions with Northrop Grumman, Lockheed Martin and Boeing.


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