Jupiter 1/EchoStar 17. Credit: SSL

WASHINGTON — Space Systems Loral, seeking to expand its government business, has named a longtime Bigelow Aerospace executive as its new head of Washington operations.

SSL announced May 9 that it has hired Michael Gold, formerly director of D.C. operations and business growth for Bigelow Aerospace, as its new vice president of Washington operations. Gold, the company said in a statement, will help the company build up a Washington presence as it seeks to do more business with U.S. government agencies.

“Expanding our DC-area office demonstrates our commitment to further build on the work we are doing with U.S. government agencies,” said John Celli, president of SSL, in a statement. “Michael Gold brings a wealth of experience with both civil and defense organizations and will strengthen our ability to make a contribution to government programs.”

In an interview, Gold said he was attracted by the opportunity to work with SSL as it leverages its capabilities in the commercial communication satellite market to serve new markets. “This was an unprecedented opportunity that I just couldn’t turn down,” he said.

Michael Gold. Credit: SSL
Michael Gold. Credit: SSL

Gold founded the Washington office for Bigelow Aerospace in 2003. He has been the company’s voice on export control and other regulatory issues, and supported two launch campaigns of the company’s Genesis 1 and 2 spacecraft, launched on Dnepr rockets from Russia in 2006 and 2007, respectively. More recently, he dealt with issues involving the Bigelow Expandable Activity Module (BEAM), a prototype expandable habitat module installed on the International Space Station last month.

Gold’s experience with export control restrictions, at a time when satellites and related components were under the jurisdiction of the International Traffic in Arms Regulations, led him to become a major advocate for export control reform. He chaired for several years the export control working group of the Federal Aviation Administration’s Commercial Space Transportation Advisory Committee (COMSTAC), leading calls for reform that the administration and Congress eventually adopted.[spacenews-ad]

Gold became chairman of COMSTAC in November 2012. He said in the interview that he will continue in that position despite changing jobs.

SSL and its Canadian parent company, MDA Corp., have been taking steps to grow its U.S. government business. MDA’s chief executive, Daniel Friedmann, announced in April he was stepping down after 20 years so that the company could hire an American successor. The new MDA chief executive, Howard L. Lance, is a U.S. citizen and will work from SSL’s offices when he starts work May 16.

SSL’s government work includes providing camera focus mechanisms and a robotic sample handling assembly for NASA’s Mars 2020 rover. The company also received a contract from NASA in February to study using its commercial satellite bus for the agency’s proposed Asteroid Redirect Robotic Mission, where a spacecraft will grab a boulder off the surface of a near Earth asteroid and return it to cislunar space.

Jeff Foust writes about space policy, commercial space, and related topics for SpaceNews. He earned a Ph.D. in planetary sciences from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a bachelor’s degree with honors in geophysics and planetary science...