Local

July 19, 2012

New director sees Mojave as great location for R&D

by Raphael Jaffe
Staff Writer

Mojave Air and Space Port now has a director of Economic Development, Karina Drees.

Drees brings more than 12 years of experience in strategy and business development, and has held management positions for growing technology companies ranging in size from startups to large public companies.

She told Aerotech News that Mojave “has a strong brand as a great location for conducting research and development for commercial space.”

She says this is an ideal location to build up this industry.

Mojave Air and Space Port advantages include its infrastructure developments, the fine taxiways and long runways; and modern infrastructure such as the high-speed Internet cable being installed for airport tenants. It has had a spaceport license since 2004, so its logistics are set up for space flight tests.

Another advantage is that the airport and its tenants have a very strong mutually supportive relationship. The air and space port provides support services, such as security, operations and maintenance, and gives quiet support to its tenants.

California has great universities that graduate top engineers, so there is a skilled labor pool. The community of Mojave is revitalizing itself.

“People call the Mojave Spaceport, if they want to get into the commercial space industry”, she says.

In her few weeks here, she has found that the airport staff is a really fantastic team, with a talented group of people.

Drees holds an MBA from the MIT Sloan School of Management, and a BS from Arizona State University. At MIT, she ran the MIT $100K Entrepreneurship Competition. Following MIT, Drees attended the International Space University’s Summer Session Program in Beijing, China.

The National Space Society granted her a scholarship to attend the International Space University. She is a board member of the MIT $100K Entrepreneurship Competition and a judge for the MIT Global Challenge. In addition to her entrepreneurial activities, Drees serves as a Small Business Innovative Research proposal reviewer and panelist for the National Science Foundation.

While at MIT, she met Dr. Peter H. Diamandis, the founder of the X Prize Foundation and a longtime member of NSS. Diamandis became a personal role model for Drees. In 2007, Drees and Stuart Witt, Mojave CEO, collaborated to develop an “access to space” action plan for commercial operations of the next generation of space transportation vehicles from Mojave.




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