Official US Government Icon

Official websites use .gov
A .gov website belongs to an official government organization in the United States.

Secure Site Icon

Secure .gov websites use HTTPS
A lock ( ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .gov website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

U.S. Department of Transportation Announces Appointees to Commercial Space Transportation Advisory Committee

Friday, April 13, 2018

WASHINGTON –U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) Secretary Elaine L. Chao today announced key additions to the Commercial Space Transportation Advisory Committee (COMSTAC).

“America continues to lead the way in cutting-edge space transportation technologies. I’m pleased to welcome this distinguished group to the Commercial Space Transportation Advisory Committee and thank those members who are continuing their service,” said Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao.

COMSTAC provides information, advice, and recommendations to the FAA Administrator on all matters relating to U.S. commercial space transportation industry activities. The committee provides a forum for the development and communication of information from an independent perspective. COMSTAC membership consists of members of the commercial space transportation industry; the satellite industry, manufacturers and users; state and local government officials; as well as representatives from firms providing insurance, advocacy, and from academia.

The following individuals are being newly appointed:

Mr. Paul Damphousse is the Senior Director of Business Development at SES Government Solutions in Washington, DC. Prior to SES, Paul founded General Astronautics LLC in 2014. Damphousse retired from the U.S. Marine Corps in December 2011, after 22 years of service as a combat pilot and space operations officer.

Ms. Deborah McElroy serves as Executive Vice President for Airports Council International-North America (ACI-NA). McElroy joined ACI-NA in December 2006 as Senior Vice President, Government Affairs, after serving for seven years as the president of the Regional Airline Association (RAA).

Mr. David K. Karnes is President and Chief Executive Officer of The Fairmont Group Incorporated, a merchant banking/consulting company with offices in Omaha and Washington, DC.  Mr. Karnes also serves in an “of counsel” capacity to the national law firm of Kutak Rock. He joined the firm in 1989 immediately following his tenure as a United States Senator representing Nebraska. 

Captain Billy Nolen was named Senior Vice President of Safety, Security and Operations for Airlines for America (A4A) in July 2015. Prior to joining A4A, Nolen held a number of safety-related positions with American Airlines, including managing American’s Operations Aviation Safety Action Partnership.

Mr. Eric Stallmer is the President of the Commercial Spaceflight Federation (CSF). Before working at CSF, Stallmer served as the Vice President of Government Relations at Analytical Graphics Inc. (AGI). For more than two decades, Stallmer has served as an Officer in the United States Army and Army Reserves.

Mr. Stuart (Stu) Witt is the Founder and CEO of S.O. Witt and Associates, LLC, a professional consulting firm which focuses on private equity funding for commercial space ventures and clean, renewable energy initiatives. From 2002 to 2016 he served as the CEO and General Manager of Mojave Air and Space Port in California.

Mr. Christopher C. Hassler serves as President, CEO and Founder at Syndetics Inc. in Washington DC. Before founding Syndetics Inc. in 2003, Christopher served as Senior Vice President at SM&A, a defense and aerospace consulting firm. He served in the U.S Navy from 1978 through 1997.

The following individuals are being re-appointed:

Mr. Jim Armor (Major General, USAF – Ret.) is Vice President, Strategy and Business Development, ATK Spacecraft Systems & Services, MD, where he is responsible for small satellite, satellite component and engineering services.  He is on the Board of Directors of Integral Systems, Inc., MD, and NAVSYS Corporation, CO. 

Mr. Arthur (Bill) Beckman is the Director for NASA Programs in the Washington, D.C., Operations office for The Boeing Company. Prior to this assignment, Bill provided business development support to Space Exploration programs as a Marketing Manager in Washington, D.C.

Mr. Richard DalBello is Virgin Galactic’s Vice President of Business Development and Government Affairs. Prior to joining Virgin, Richard served as Director, Space and Aeronautics, in the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.

Mr. Oscar Garcia is the founding Partner, Chairman, and CEO of InterFlight Global Corporation (IFG), an international space, aerospace, and aviation consulting firm in business since 1992. Mr. Garcia also serves on the Space Florida Board Advisory Committee.

Mr. Michael Gold is the Vice President of Washington Operations and Business Development for SSL.  Mr. Gold previously served as Bigelow Aerospace’s director of D.C. Operations and Business Growth where he was responsible for strategic planning, export control, media, corporate and federal relations, as well as patent report maintenance.

Dr. Michael D. Griffin is the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the Schafer Corporation.  Dr. Griffin is the King-McDonald Eminent Scholar and Professor of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, and the Director of the Center for System Studies at The University of Alabama in Huntsville. From 2005-09 he served as the Administrator of NASA.

Mr. Livingston Holder is a partner and the managing member at Holder Aerospace in Renton, Washington. Previously, he was the Vice President of Space Systems for Andrews Space and Technology, also in Seattle. He also served as the Chair of COMSTAC from May, 2000, to October, 2003.

Mr. Timothy Hughes serves as Senior Vice President and General Counsel for Space Exploration Technologies Corporation (SpaceX). Prior to joining SpaceX, Mr. Hughes served as Majority Counsel to the Committee on Science in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Ms. Janet C. Karika supports NASA’s Launch Services Program (LSP) as the Jacobs Executive Director of Interagency Launch Programs. She is the executive-level point of contact within NASA LSP for coordinating and facilitating program-wide partnerships and interchanges with the Air Force, National Reconnaissance Office, and other government agencies for NASA's expendable launch vehicle programs.

Mr. Chris Kunstadter is Senior Vice President of XL Insurance, and manages XL’s space insurance facility, based in New York. He joined XL in 2006, after 23 years at U.S. Aviation Underwriters, where he was Executive Vice President in charge of the Aerospace and IT departments.

Ms. Debra Facktor Lepore is the Vice President and General Manager of Strategic Operations for Ball Aerospace. Prior to joining Ball in January 2013, she served as the president of DFL Space LLC, an aerospace consulting firm. As an industry professor at Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken, New Jersey, she led its Masters of Engineering in Technical Leadership program.

Mr. Steven M. Lindsey is the Senior Director for Sierra Nevada Corporation’s Space Explorations Systems where he is responsible for the design, development, testing, and operational employment of the Dream Chaser orbital crew and cargo transportation system. He is a former Air Force fighter/test pilot and NASA astronaut with over 30 years of flight test experience.

Mr. Michael E. Lopez-Alegria has over three decades of aviation and space experience with the U.S. Navy and NASA in a variety of roles including Naval Aviator, engineering test pilot and program manager, astronaut and International Space Station commander, and President of the Commercial Spaceflight Federation. He is now an independent consultant to commercial space companies and serves on several advisory boards and committees reporting to public and private organizations.

Mr. Dale Nash became the Executive Director of Virginia Commercial Space Flight Authority (VCSFA) in July 2012. Dale also serves on the Board of Directors for the Commercial Spaceflight Federation (CSF), an industry association representing over 70 commercial space companies and organizations.

Ms. Robbie Sabathier is the vice president of Washington Operations and Communications for United Launch Alliance (ULA). Sabathier brings 15 years of broad-based commercial and civil launch experience from her work with the European commercial launch company Arianespace, and space shuttle contractor United Space Alliance.

Ms. Jennifer A. Warren is Vice President, Technology Policy & Regulation, in Lockheed Martin Washington Operations’ Government and Regulatory Affairs. In 1996, Ms. Warren joined Lockheed Martin as a Director in Space & Strategic Missiles Sector. From 1991-1996, Ms. Warren served in various capacities at the U.S. Federal Communications Commission, including Senior Legal Advisor.

Ms. Charity Weeden is the Senior Director of Policy at the Satellite Industry Association, having joined SIA in February, 2016. Prior to joining SIA, Ms. Weeden was co-founder and President of Lquinox Consulting LLC, an independent space consulting company. Ms. Weeden completed a 23-year career in the Royal Canadian Air Force, most recently as Assistant Attaché of Air & Space Operations for the Canadian Defence Liaison Staff in Washington.