Derek Tournear Named Director of DOD’s Space Development Agency

Derek Tournear

WASHINGTON (DoD PR) — The Department of Defense (DoD) today announced the selection of Dr. Derek Tournear as the first permanent director of the Space Development Agency. 

Established in March, the Space Development Agency is responsible for unifying and integrating the Department’s space development efforts, monitoring the Department’s threat-driven future space architecture, and accelerating 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.

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 DoD, 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 Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering, Dr. Michael Griffin. “Derek will lead our effort to achieve those goals.”

Dr. Tournear most recently served as the Assistant Director for Space under OUSD (R&E). 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 (IARPA) under the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, and as a Program Manager at Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). He also has professional experience at Los Alamos National Laboratory and spent time working in research and development for industry. Dr. Tournear has a Ph.D. in physics from Stanford University and a B.S. from Purdue University.

Derek Tournear Biography

Dr. Derek Tournear is currently the Director of the Space Development Agency. The Space Development Agency is responsible for unifying and integrating the Department’s space development efforts, monitoring the Department’s threat-driven future space architecture, and accelerating fielding of new military space capabilities necessary to ensure U.S. technological and military advantages in space.

Dr. Tournear previously served as the Assistant Director (AD) for Space within the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Research & Engineering (OUSD(R&E)).  The AD Space is responsible for developing the research and engineering roadmap to address future gaps in the DoD space architecture.  AD space is also responsible for coordinating all DoD efforts in space, and initiating programs to address critical gaps.

Dr. Tournear previously held leadership roles in industry, most recently the director for the Harris Space & Intelligence (SIS) research & development.  SIS was a $2B business focused on providing advanced technical solutions addressing the top National Security threats from underwater to outer space.

Prior to industry, Dr. Derek Tournear was a Senior Program Manager (SNIS-HQE) at the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity (IARPA) in the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI). At IARPA, Dr. Tournear served as a senior scientist for space activities and space technologies in the Office of Smart Collection.

Prior to IARPA, Dr. Tournear was a Program Manager for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), Tactical Technology Office and Strategic Technology Office. At DARPA, he initiated and directed a large portfolio of program, with an emphasis on sensors and space.

He has professional experience at Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) managing intelligence and defense programs. During his time at LANL, he initiated a new field of study in gamma ray optics, and developed sensors for nuclear material detection.

Dr. Tournear has a Ph.D. in physics from Stanford University and a B.S. from Purdue University. In 2010 he received an “Outstanding Alumnus” award from Purdue University and a 2008 DARPA award for “Outstanding Accomplishments in a Systems Technology Area.” Dr. Tournear is a 2011 recipient of the Secretary of Defense Medal for Exceptional Public Service, and a 2012 recipient of the Office of Director of National Intelligence Award for Exceptional Public Service.