David Thompson

Hertz Fellow: David Thompson
School

California Institute of Technology

Area of Study

Aeronautics / Astronautics

Fellowship Years

1977 - 1978

Mr. Thompson is President and Chief Executive Officer of Orbital ATK, a global leader in aerospace and defense technologies. With annual revenues of approximately $4.6 billion and a workforce of more than 13,000 people, the company designs, builds and delivers space, defense and aviation-related systems for customers around the globe, both as a prime contractor and merchant supplier.

Mr. Thompson co-founded one of Orbital ATK’s predecessors, Orbital Sciences Corp., in 1982, and served as the company’s Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer. Before co-founding Orbital, Mr. Thompson was special assistant to the president of Hughes Aircraft Company’s Missile Systems Group and was a project manager and engineer on advanced rocket engines at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center. As a college student, he worked on the first Mars landing missions at Caltech’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory and on Space Shuttle projects at NASA’s Langley Research Center and Johnson Space Center.

Mr. Thompson was awarded the National Medal of Technology, was honored as Virginia’s Industrialist of the Year, and was named High-Technology Entrepreneur of the Year. In addition, he received the National Air and Space Museum Trophy from the Smithsonian Institution and was honored with the von Kármán International Wings Award by the Aerospace Historical Society. He was also selected as Satellite Executive of the Year by Via Satellite Magazine, was recognized with the Arthur C. Clarke Lifetime Achievement Award, and was presented with the World Technology Award for Space by The Economist Magazine.

Mr. Thompson is an Honorary Fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA), a Fellow of the American Astronautical Society and the Royal Aeronautical Society, and a member of the U.S. National Academy of Engineering and the International Academy of Astronautics. He was AIAA’s President for the 2009-2010 year. He received a B.S. in Aeronautics and Astronautics from Massachusetts Institute of Technology, a M.S. in Aeronautics from California Institute of Technology (Caltech), and a M.B.A. from Harvard Business School. He also serves as a member of the Boards of Trustees of Caltech and the Carnegie Institution.