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Executive Management - John Olson

Vice President, Space Exploration Systems Sierra Nevada Corporation's Space Systems

Dr. John Olson serves as vice president of Space Exploration Systems for SNC’s Space Systems, based in Louisville, Colorado. With 27 years of strategic leadership roles across government and commercial sectors in aerospace, technology, development and operations, Olson oversees the Space Exploration Systems and advanced development programs, including the Dream Chaser® spacecraft, a modern, reusable, lifting-body space system for uncrewed and crewed transport to low-Earth orbit. He also supports product line development in the areas of Space Technologies, Spacecraft Systems and SNC’s wholly-owned subsidiary ORBITEC. His portfolio includes market, mission and business development across international, interagency, industry and institutional/academia sectors. In addition, he currently leads White House, congressional, policy and regulatory engagement efforts as the head of government affairs for SNC’s Space Systems in the District of Columbia. Olson is an elected member of the National Academies’ National Research Council Air and Space Engineering board. He also serves as the director of the joint reserve for the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering at the Pentagon as a U.S. Air Force reserve officer.

Prior to his role at SNC, Olson was the assistant director for Space and Aeronautics in the Office of Science and Technology Policy in the Executive Office of the President, where he developed and directed U.S. civil, commercial and national security policy and plans for space and aeronautics. Before serving at the White House, Olson held several senior executive service positions at NASA Headquarters including: director of the Strategic Analysis and Integration Division, Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate; head of the Exploration Directorate, Integration Office; and exploration transition manager, Exploration Systems Mission Directorate.

Olson holds bachelor’s degrees in Engineering Science and Mechanical Engineering from the U.S. Air Force Academy; a master’s degree in Materials Science and Engineering from the University of Illinois; a master’s degree in Aviation Systems, Avionics and Human Factors from the University of Tennessee; and a doctorate in Industrial and Systems Engineering from Auburn University. He is also a graduate of the Harvard Senior Executive Fellows Program, the Defense Language Institute, Air War College and the Air Force Test Pilot School. Olson currently serves on the board of AirSpace Minnesota and the American Astronautical Society and is an associate fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics.