Dr. Debra L. Emmons is vice president and chief technology officer at The Aerospace Corporation. In this role, she is responsible for providing vital leadership for determining and executing the company’s technology strategy and investments. Emmons leads four offices: Hubs, responsible for assessing promising new technologies; iLaB, responsible for developing investment strategies in innovative technologies and advanced concepts; xLab, responsible for building and operating prototypes; and the newly formed Commercial Space Futures (CSF) office, responsible for driving the harnessing of commercial solutions for government missions to advance U.S. space. She also manages the company’s internal R&D program and the Aerospace Technical Fellows program, with the company’s top engineers and scientists.
Previously, Emmons was vice president of special studies at Aerospace, responsible for promoting the use of corporate and government resources through horizontal and cross-program integrated planning and engineering. Prior to that, she served as general manager of Aerospace’s Communication Technologies and Engineering Division, where she oversaw the communications studies, analysis, and testing products of the division to serve the full range of corporate national security space, civil, and commercial customers, and managed a geographically distributed team of engineers and laboratories. Emmons was also the lead for the corporate strategic initiative in optical communications and its applications. Before that, she was the assistant general manager of the Strategic Assessment and Studies Division, where she led her team in providing objective technical analyses and assessments for space programs that serve the national interest. Emmons also managed the Programmatic and Technical Assessment Center of Excellence for strategic studies and analysis within her portfolio.
Emmons was integral in the establishment and growth of the NASA and civil space customer lines of business. In 2010, she relocated to the East coast offices to strengthen the customer-facing role and increase our value. Before joining Aerospace in 2003 as a project engineer, Emmons worked at Hughes Space and Communications Company as a system engineering project manager on commercial telecommunications satellite development.
An experienced aerospace leader with technical, management, and industry experience in the acquisition and development of advanced technology space systems, Emmons has more than 25 years of experience in systems engineering, technical and risk analysis, program management, and communications systems. She was a principal contributor on several key high-level studies and assessments that have informed strategic decisionmaking within the government.
Emmons earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in electrical engineering from Cornell University with a concentration in signal processing and communications theory. She was awarded an MBA from Imperial College Management School, London, UK, with a concentration in entrepreneurship and finance. Emmons earned a Ph.D. in systems engineering from the George Washington University.
Awards and Honors
Emmons was awarded two Aerospace President’s Awards and named Aerospace Woman of the Year (2007). In 2006, she was honored for her contributions to the NASA Hubble Space Telescope Analysis of Alternatives. In 2010, she was honored for providing technical studies critical to the Augustine Commission’s recommendations for future U.S. human spaceflight.
Past and present affiliations include the Aerospace Executive Diversity Council; Space Communications and Navigation committee; Advanced Space Communications and Navigation Systems Session, International Astronautical Federation; a subcommittee of the National Science Foundation Business and Operations Advisory Committee; and National Space Club and Foundation, Washington, D.C.