Undersecretary of Defense for Research and Engineering Mike Griffin

LOS ANGELES — Derek Tournear, assistant director for space at the office of Undersecretary of Defense for Research and Engineering Mike Griffin has been named acting director of the Space Development Agency until a permanent director is appointed. Tournear’s appointment, effective June 24, comes five days after the resignation of former SDA director Fred Kennedy.

“Dr. Tournear will be ‘dual-hatted’ as he will continue in his current position as the assistant director for space within the office of the undersecretary of defense for research and engineering,” Pentagon spokeswoman Heather Babb said in a statement.

Like Kennedy, Tournear previously worked at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) Tactical Technology Office, and at the Strategic Technology Office. He directed a large portfolio of programs with an emphasis on sensors and space.

As assistant director for space, Tournear is responsible for developing a research and engineering roadmap to address future gaps in the DoD space architecture. He also helps to coordinate DoD space programs.

Most recently, Tournear was director of Harris Space & Intelligence research and development.

Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center Commander Lt. Gen. John Thompson told SpaceNews on Tuesday he looks forward to working with Tournear. “He has a great background in space,” Thompson said.

Kennedy was scheduled to visit the Space and Missile Systems Center at Los Angeles Air Force Base in July to interview candidates to work for the SDA. Thompson said he agreed to allow the SDA to recruit a small number of officers from SMC.

“We’ll continue to work that with the acting director,” said Thompson.

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...