WASHINGTON — Impulse Space, a startup focused on space transportation and exploration, announced Feb. 21 that retired Space Force general John “Jay” Raymond has joined its board of directors. 

Based in Redondo Beach, California, Impulse Space was founded in 2021 by Tom Mueller, a founding member of SpaceX who helped design the Merlin rocket engine that powers the Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy launch vehicles.

Impulse Space develops orbital maneuvering vehicles for last-mile payload delivery in low Earth orbit and beyond. 

Raymond was the Space Force’s first chief of space operations from 2019 to 2022. His appointment “comes amid a period of strong momentum for Impulse in the government sector,” the company said in a news release.

Impulse Space recently won two Small Business Innovation Research Program (SBIR) contracts under the SpaceWERX Tactically Responsive Space challenge. About 232 companies submitted 302 proposals for this project. Impulse Space was one of 19 awardees.

As a board member, Raymond will “support and advise the Impulse team in its work with government partners and customers,” the company said.

Jay Raymond. Credit: Impulse Space

Raymond in a statement described Impulse Space as “an innovative company led by our nation’s leading propulsion experts, focused on responsive space mobility.”

Impulse Space in November launched Mira, a small transfer vehicle flying a mission called LEO Express-1, which successfully deployed a cubesat. The company earlier this year unveiled a new larger vehicle called Helios, designed to serve as a transfer stage for transporting satellites from low Earth orbit to geostationary orbit in less than a day.

“With the two awards from SpaceWERX and the guidance from General Raymond, Impulse can help bring the government closer to its goal of unlocking a more responsive space profile,” said Mueller. 

One of the SBIR contracts is to demonstrate rapid refueling operations with the Mira vehicle. The other focuses on the development of the Helios engine to enable access to high-energy orbits beyond LEO.

“We believe that enabling tactical responsiveness in space — especially in orbits like MEO [medium Earth orbit] and GEO [geostationary Earth orbit] — is the next major frontier for our national space program, which is why we’re thrilled to have General Raymond join our board,” Mueller said. 

After retiring from active duty in October 2022, Raymond joined the private equity firm Cerberus Capital Management as senior managing director. He oversees supply chain and strategic opportunities, and provides strategic guidance on investments in the space domain. Cerberus is said to be among the potential buyers interested in acquiring the Boeing-Lockheed joint venture United Launch Alliance.

Sandra Erwin writes about military space programs, policy, technology and the industry that supports this sector. She has covered the military, the Pentagon, Congress and the defense industry for nearly two decades as editor of NDIA’s National Defense...