Dr. Charles L. Gustafson

Dr. Charles L. Gustafson

Senior Vice President Special Studies


Dr. Charles L. Gustafson is senior vice president, Special Studies, as of January 1, 2021.

Gustafson was previously senior vice president of the Office of the Chief Velocity Officer (OCVO) responsible for overseeing Facilities, Security and Safety, Corporate Communications and Public Affairs, and the corporate business manager community.

Prior to that, Gustafson was senior vice president of the Engineering and Technology Group (ETG), which comprises nearly half of the corporation’s technical staff. ETG provides support to all national security space programs in the areas of space and launch vehicles, electronics and sensors, computers and software, communications and networking, and systems engineering and architecting. The organization also includes the corporate physical science laboratories and the corporate research portfolio. Dr. Gustafson was elected to that position in April 2015.

Formerly, Gustafson was general manager of the Launch Systems Division, where he was responsible for EELV New Entrant certification activities, civil and commercial launch programs, and enterprise-level functions. This included oversight and management of the certification process for the SpaceX Falcon 9 v1.1 launch system, and for the NROL-79 contract award—the first competitive national security space mission in more than a decade. During this period, he also served on the Accident Investigation Board for the GPS IIF-3 low-thrust anomaly.

Gustafson joined the corporation in 1983 as a member of the technical staff in the Control Analysis Department, and has held increasingly more responsible positions, including systems director, Launch Vehicles, International Technology Applications Office; director, Control Analysis Department; principal director, TSAT Program; and general manager, Vehicle Systems Division.

While at Aerospace, Gustafson has held positions as instructor in the Electrical Engineering and Computer Science Department at the University of California, Irvine; as adjunct faculty and instructor in the Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Department, University of California, Los Angeles; and as instructor in the Electrical Engineering Department at the University of Southern California. Gustafson served on the Air Force Scientific Advisory Board from 2012 through 2015, participating in two summer studies and leading the study on Microsatellite Mission Applications in 2013. He also served as chair for the FY15 Science and Technology review process, having previously served as vice chair in FY14.


Gustafson earned his bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering (with high honors) from Purdue University and his master’s degree and Ph.D. in electrical engineering and computer science from the University of California, Berkeley.


Gustafson is an Associate Fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) and has served as a member of the Air Force Scientific Advisory Board.

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