Stratolaunch today announced that Dr. Mark Lewis has joined its Technical Advisory Group, a highly specialized team that provides perspectives and support on all aspects of the business.

Dr. Lewis is a renowned leader in the fields of hypersonic aerodynamics and propulsion with a distinguished career that has supported United States national defense priorities through technological advancements and modernization. He recently served as the Acting Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering for the U.S. Department of Defense (“DoD”), responsible for research, development, and prototyping activities, and was the senior-most scientific professional in the Pentagon. He was also the DoD’s Director of Defense Research and Engineering for Modernization overseeing investments in the Pentagon’s portfolio of national defense technology priorities. His appointment expands Stratolaunch’s Technical Advisory Group, which is comprised of industry leaders, including:

Ken Szalai (Chairman), former NASA Armstrong (Dryden) Center Director

Bob Kohler, former Executive Vice President and General Manager at TRW, Avionics and Surveillance Group

Jim Nelson, former Stress Analysis Chief Engineer for Boeing Commercial Airplanes in Southern California

Walt Williamson, former Department Manager of High-Speed Exploratory Aerospace Systems at Sandia National Laboratories

Neil Kacena, former Vice President Advanced Development Programs Deputy at Lockheed Martin

“It is an honor to expand our Technical Advisory Group with a leader of Mark’s caliber,” said Dr. Zachary Krevor, President of Stratolaunch. “The group brings together experts across disciplines who understand the strength of partnership and the imperative of hypersonic testing to national security. Their support is a powerful endorsement of Stratolaunch’s technologies and platform.”

Dr. Lewis added: “Stratolaunch’s approach will offer much-needed repeated access into the hypersonic flight corridor, exactly what our nation needs to be successful in pushing the boundaries of high-speed flight. The Talon craft will be the reusable hypersonic ‘wind tunnel in the sky’ that many of us in the field have been talking about for years, returning us to a rhythm of flight test operations that our nation hasn’t seen since the end of the storied X-15 program. I could not be more excited about working with the incredible engineers on the Stratolaunch team and my esteemed Technical Advisory Group colleagues to make this a reality.”

Stratolaunch recently completed the Critical Design Review for its Talon-A hypersonic test vehicles. This achievement is in line with Stratolaunch’s timeline to begin hypersonic flight testing in 2022 and deliver services to government and commercial customers by 2023. Launched from Stratolaunch’s Roc carrier aircraft, the Talon-A vehicles are rocket-propelled, autonomous, reusable testbeds carrying customizable payloads at speeds above Mach 5. This capability enables routine access to the hypersonic flight environment, which is critical for scientific research, technological development, and component demonstration.

About Dr. Mark J. Lewis

Dr. Mark J. Lewis is the Executive Director of the National Defense Industrial Association’s Emerging Technologies Institute, a non-partisan think-tank focusing on the delivery of modern capabilities into the hands of American warfighters. He is the former Acting Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering for the DoD. In this role, he was responsible for research, development, and prototyping activities across the DoD enterprise. In addition, he oversaw the activities of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), the Missile Defense Agency (MDA), the Space Development Agency (SDA), the Defense Innovation Unit (DIU), the DoD Laboratory and Engineering Center enterprise, and the Under Secretariat staff focused on developing advanced technology and capability for the U.S. military.

He was also the inaugural Director of Defense Research and Engineering for Modernization. In this capacity, Dr. Lewis oversaw investment and capability analysis of the Pentagon’s modernization priorities outlined in the 2018 National Defense Strategy. He had oversight of the 11 principal directors assigned to those modernization portfolios and their roadmaps – the comprehensive strategies to manage, provide oversight and guide choices for each modernization priority area. These modernization priorities include 5G; artificial intelligence and machine learning; autonomy; biotechnology; cyber; directed energy; fully networked command, control, and communications; hypersonics; microelectronics; quantum science; and space.

Prior to those roles, Dr. Lewis was the Director of the IDA Science and Technology Policy Institute where he led a team of researchers providing analysis of science and technology issues for the Office of Science and Technology Policy in the White House, the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, NASA and other federal science agencies. Dr. Lewis is a Professor Emeritus at the University of Maryland, having served as the Willis Young, Jr. Professor and Chair of the Department of Aerospace Engineering. He also served as President of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics and was the founder of both the Center for Hypersonics Education and Research and the NASA-Air Force Constellation University Institutes Project. He has also served on various advisory boards for NASA, the Defense Department, and the Air Force, including two terms on the Air Force Scientific Advisory Board. He is the author of more than 340 technical publications and has advised more than 70 graduate students, including many of the current generation of hypersonics leaders.

From 2004 to 2008, Dr. Lewis served as the Chief Scientist of the U.S. Air Force. During his tenure, he expanded basic research support, focused efforts on launch vehicle technologies, established major international programs and contributed to the Presidential National Aeronautics Executive Order.

Dr. Lewis attended the Massachusetts Institute of Technology where he received a Bachelor of Science degree in aeronautics and astronautics, Bachelor of Science degree in earth and planetary science (1984), and both a Master of Science degree (1985) and a Doctor of Science degree (1988) in aeronautics and astronautics.

About Stratolaunch

Stratolaunch’s mission is to advance high-speed technology through innovative design, manufacturing, and operation of world-class aerospace vehicles. For the latest news and information, visit and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.