XCOR Aerospace CEO nominated for Pentagon post

WASHINGTON — The White House has nominated the president and
chief executive of suborbital spaceplane and engine developer
XCOR Aerospace to a top position in the Defense Department.

In a list of nominations released by the administration late
June 16, the White House announced it was nominating John H.
“Jay” Gibson II to the position of Deputy Chief Management
Officer within the Office of the Secretary of Defense. The
nomination requires confirmation by the Senate.

Deputy Chief Management Officer is a position at the Under
Secretary of Defense level, established by Congress a decade
ago. The office is responsible for management of business
systems within the Defense Department with a goal to “better
synchronize, integrate, and coordinate” those efforts,
according to the office’s mission and vision statements.

Gibson had been president and chief executive of Midland,
Texas-based XCOR Aerospace since March 2015, succeeding
co-founder Jeff Greason, who became chief technology officer of
the company. He came to XCOR from Beechcraft, where he worked
for several years in executive positions in its government and
defense business.

Gibson previously worked at the Pentagon during the
administration of George W. Bush, serving as Deputy Under
Secretary of Defense for management reform and Assistant
Secretary of the Air Force for financial management, a position
equivalent to chief financial officer.

Jay GibsonJay Gibson, president
and CEO of XCOR Aerospace. Credit: XCOR Aerospace

XCOR Aerospace has gone through significant changes during
Gibson’s tenure leading the company. In November 2015, Greason
and two other co-founders of the company, Dan DeLong and the
late Aleta Jackson,
left XCOR
and founded Agile Aero, a company developing
modern rapid design and prototyping techniques for aircraft and
launch systems.

In May 2016, the company announced
it was focusing the company’s resources on an engine
program
backed by United Launch Alliance for potential use
on the upper stage of its next-generation Vulcan launch
vehicle. As a result, XCOR said it was halting work on its Lynx
suborbital spaceplane, a two-person commercial vehicle that was
the company’s best-known project, laying off a number of
employees in the process.

The company has said little about Lynx in the year since it
decided to stop work on the project. Marco Martinez-Venturi,
head of astronaut relations at the company, said in March that
continued development of the prototype Lynx Mark 1 vehicle, and
a test flight program, were dependent on funding.

“Although we have advanced the program with much of our recent
efforts, completion of the prototype is funding dependent,” he
said in response to questions about the status of Lynx
development. “The start of the test flight program, like the
vehicle completion, is dependent on funding.”

An XCOR spokesperson said June 18 that the company has not
named a successor to Gibson, who is expected to remain at the
company through the end of the month.