WASHINGTON — Commercial space station developer Vast Space has hired an executive from another space station company as an adviser.

Vast announced March 28 that it hired Clay Mowry as an adviser. In that role, he will provide support for the company as it works on its proposed commercial space stations.

Mowry was previously chief revenue officer at Voyager Space, which is working with Airbus Defence and Space on the Starlab commercial station. That effort is one of three commercial station initiatives being funded by NASA, alongside those led by Axiom Space and Blue Origin.

Clay Mowry. Credit: Vast Space

“Clay’s experience and insight will be instrumental as we continue to push the boundaries of what’s possible in space habitation,” Max Haot, chief executive of Vast, said in a statement. “His contribution will play a key role in supporting Vast’s strategic direction and driving our mission forward.”

“What draws me to Vast is that they are building an incredible team and flight hardware to be sure that space agencies and commercial astronauts have a safe research platform in LEO well before the ISS is retired,” Mowry told SpaceNews. He said he has visited the company’s facilities in Long Beach, California, and “I’m impressed with their progress and determination.”

Mowry spent a little more than two years at Voyager, coming to that company after serving as vice president of global sales at Blue Origin. Previously, he led Arianespace’s U.S. office. He is also president of the International Astronautical Federation, an organization best known for its annual International Astronautical Congress events.

While Vast does not have a NASA award to work on commercial space station designs, it is privately developing Haven-1, a crew-tended module it plans to launch as soon as the end of the next year. It will be visited by one or more crews flying on SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft.

Vast plans to use the experience from Haven-1 to develop larger space stations, including those it will offer NASA access to through later phases of the agency’s Commercial Low Earth Orbit Development program. Vast received an unfunded Space Act Agreement from NASA last year to gain access to agency expertise to help in that effort.

In February, Haot announced that Vast planned to bid on future private astronaut mission opportunities NASA is offering to the International Space Station. NASA has awarded four such missions to date, all to Axiom Space. Axiom has flown three of them, most recently the Ax-3 mission early this year, with Ax-4 scheduled to launch this fall. Haot argued that sch private astronaut missions would give the company additional experience to support its future stations.

Employee lawsuit

The company is also fighting a court case brought by a former employee. In a suit filed with California Superior Court March 26, Christopher Timperio, a former radio-frequency engineer at the company, alleged he was fired after disputes with company executives about planned use of spectrum for Haven-1.

In the complaint, Timperio said he warned company leadership that its plans to use certain X- and L-band spectrum would run afoul of Federal Communications Commission regulations. That came after meetings with FCC staff and a NASA spectrum manager, who noted the X-band spectrum had primary use by federal users for Earth observation.

Timperio said in the complaint that Vast executives rejected those concerns and, in one meeting, showed “physical frustration” with him. He said he was soon fired for the company for “difficulties working on technical projects and disagreeing with the technical direction of the leadership at Vast.”

“We are aware that former Vast employee Chris Timperio raised a concern, after his separation from Vast, about the company’s plans for spectrum licensing,” Vast said in a statement to SpaceNews. “The company retained outside counsel who conducted a thorough investigation into Mr. Timperio’s concerns and determined they had no merit. The company intends to vigorously defend against Mr. Timperio’s claims.”

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...