Derek Tournear, who has served as acting director of the Space Development Agency (SDA) since June, was officially named the agency’s director Oct. 28.
The SDA was established in March. Tournear replaced the agency’s first director Fred Kennedy June 24. He previously served as the assistant director for space under the Office of the Undersecretary of Defense for Research and Engineering, and remains dual-hatted as the office looks to backfill his position in the near future, Defense Daily has been told.
As SDA director, Tournear is leading the charge for the agency to develop seven new sensor layers – six space-based layers and one ground-based layer – that will better enable space warfighting capabilities, with a goal of reaching initial operating capability (IOC) within the next five years (Defense Daily, Sept. 20).
He confirmed earlier this month that the agency is moving forward with its plans toward IOC even as Congress continues to work through negotiations to reach a conference deal for the fiscal year 2020 National Defense Authorization Act and as the Senate works to pass its FY ’20 defense appropriations bill (Defense Daily, Oct. 16).
“Our strategy is to unify efforts across the military services and government agencies to rapidly develop capabilities that are responsive to the threat, are cost-effective, and increase our technological advantage,” said Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering, Michael Griffin in a Monday release. “Derek will lead our effort to achieve those goals.”
Tournear previously served as the senior scientist for space activities and space technologies in the Office of Smart Collection at the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity (IARPA) under the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, and as a program manager at Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). He also has professional experience at Los Alamos National Laboratory and spent time working in research and development for industry. Tournear has a Ph.D. in physics from Stanford University and a B.S. from Purdue University.