Retired Boeing satellite exec to head EO startup Hera Systems

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PARIS — California startup Hera Systems has tapped a long-retired Boeing executive as CEO to to help realize the firm’s ambition to develop and launch a constellation of tens of Earth-observing micro-satellites.

Roger Roberts ended an eight-year stint as the head of Boeing space and intelligence systems in 2005 as his unit’s marquee classified contract, the Future Imagery Architecture constellation of optical and radar reconnaissance satellites, was facing cancellation.

Bobby Machinski, Hera Systems’ founder, announced  Sept. 15 during the closing day of Euroconsult’s World Satellite Business Week that Roberts would be replacing him as CEO.

Machinksi, who will now serve as Hera’s chief business development officer, said that Roberts has already been involved with the project as an adviser.

After leaving Boeing in 2005 at age 58, Roberts founded RF Roberts Consult and served on various boards. Sun Microsystems Government, Applied Signal, Ball Aerospace, KOR Electronics, and Sotera Defense.

In 2010, Roberts co-founded solar-power company Suntricity Corp.

At Hera, Roberts will oversee the deployment of a constellation of 50-60 microsatellites being designed to deliver imagery as sharp as one-meter resolution over several spectral bands as well as video.

Machinski said the company recently closed a Series B financing round and expects to start launching their satellites next year.

San Jose, California-headquartered Hera Systems is one in the expanding field of startups hoping to make a fortune from a geospatial data rush.