Sierra Space has appointed Jeff Babione as the company’s Chief Operating Officer (COO).
Babione is a long-time industry veteran, most recently serving as Lockheed Martin’s Advanced Development Program Vice President and General Manager, leading the famed division commonly referred to as Skunk Works®.
Prior to Skunk Works®, Babione was the Executive Vice President and General Manager of the F-35 Lighting II program at Lockheed Martin, responsible for the development, production, sustainment and modernization of three F-35 variants for three U.S. military services, eight international partner nations and multiple foreign military sales customers. Jeff led the F-22 and F-16 programs prior to his work on the F-35, and served as Chief Engineer on the F-22 Raptor.
Babione holds a Masters of Business Administration from the University of Tennessee, a Master’s in Aerospace Engineering from the University of Washington and a Bachelor’s from Virginia Tech in Aerospace & Ocean Engineering.
In November 2021, Sierra Space secured a $1.4 billion Series A capital raise, one of the largest aerospace and defense capital raises globally in 2021. The Series A investment was led by General Atlantic, Coatue and Moore Strategic Ventures, with participation from funds and accounts managed by BlackRock Private Equity Partners and AE Industrial Partners. The funding is accelerating the development of the company’s space transportation systems – led by the Dream Chaser® spaceplane, in-space destinations for LEO commercialization, and advanced technologies and space applications.
Sierra Space also recently outlined plans for an extensive recruitment drive that will nearly double its labor force and create 1,000 net new jobs in 2022 with the majority of positions being in Colorado and also distributed to other locations in Wisconsin, Florida and North Carolina.
“Jeff is an exceptional leader who brings to Sierra Space a wealth of talent, experience and shared passion for achieving our vision,” said Tom Vice, Sierra Space CEO. “We are delighted to have Jeff join our leadership team and I know his proven track record in leading complex aerospace businesses and programs will be a great asset as we build the first commercial platform in space.”
“Sierra Space and the team Tom is assembling are bold industry leaders in the commercial space and low-Earth orbit industries,” added Babione. “Throughout my career I have been fortunate to work with some amazing teams and play a role in producing incredible technology for our nation, but I have always wanted to do something in the space sector. Here at Sierra Space, we have the unique opportunity to make a real, lasting difference for the future of humanity in the work we will do. As I look forward to the day at Kennedy Space Center where we see Dream Chaser launch and later return to land on the runway, I know that I can help get us to that iconic moment.”
Sierra Space is a leading commercial space company that is building platforms in space to benefit life on Earth. With more than 30 years and 500 missions of space flight heritage, Sierra Space is enabling the future of space transportation with Dream Chaser®, the world’s only winged commercial spaceplane. Expected to launch in early 2023 on a series of NASA missions, Dream Chaser can safely carry cargo – and eventually crew – to on-orbit destinations, returning to land on compatible commercial airport runways worldwide. Sierra Space is also building the LIFE™ habitat, a three-story commercial habitation and science platform designed for low Earth orbit (LEO). Both Dream Chaser and LIFE are central components to Orbital Reef, a mixed-use business park in LEO being developed by principal partners Sierra Space and Blue Origin, which is expected to be operational by 2027.