Press Release

Former Banker Andrew Nelson Joins XCOR as Chief Operating Officer

By SpaceRef Editor
September 9, 2008
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Company focused on safe, reliable and reuseable rocket technology

Building rocket-powered vehicles to take people into space is not the usual career path for a Boston-based investment banker, but Andrew Nelson is not your ordinary gray-suited executive. A competitive sailor, Nelson has long charted his own course, and believes that his future lies with a small Mojave-based aerospace firm named XCOR Aerospace. The firm is developing and building safe, reliable and fully reusable rocket propulsion systems to lower the cost of space access.

Nelson left a banking and aerospace consulting career that spanned Morgan Stanley, Lehman Brothers, and Booz Allen and Hamilton for XCOR Aerospace, Inc, based in rural Mojave, CA. As unlikely as such a career move may seem, XCOR marks a return to Nelson’s high-technology roots. His first job was as an engineer with Pan Am World Services at Cape Canaveral. He later focused on technical and regulatory issues in the aviation and space sectors at MITRE Corporation. He earned a Bachelor of Science degree in electrical engineering at Ohio University, and his MBA at MIT’s Sloan School of Management.

“XCOR was founded on the idea that a small team of dedicated, talented individuals can innovate and develop products much faster than larger, more conventional organizations,” said XCOR CEO and co-founder, Jeff Greason. “Andrew fits in well and understands the aerospace industry and the world of finance.”

“Success on Wall Street depends upon finding opportunities and solutions for our clients before anyone else does,” said Nelson. “You have to examine technology and developments for critical trends, then you must determine which firm is best poised to take advantage of the opportunities created by these market changes. XCOR has such a team.”

Nelson said that the space access market will create many opportunities and cited studies that say the market for suborbital space tourism, scientific research, commercial and government markets will approach $1.2 billion by 2012.

“Nine years ago, we founded XCOR in the belief that we could make space access affordable, and that the first step was to build safe, reliable and reusable rocket engines,” Greason said. “The team has designed, built and fired 10 different rocket engine designs logging over 3,500 starts. That experience will be put to use building vehicles that will provide ordinary people safer and more affordable access to space.”

“During all our hours of running our rocket engines, we have never had a chamber burst; our safety features have never failed to protect our personnel; and our engines have never caused a minute of lost time injury,” Greason added. “In addition, while most rocket engines are designed to work for just one flight, ours are built to last. Our 4K14 rocket engine chamber has run 486 times and it is still going strong. That level of durability translates into better safety for our clients, as well as lower cost operations and superior financial results.”

Oshkosh flights demonstrate achievement

“Safety will determine winning or losing in the space industry, so I think that XCOR’s safety record is a firm foundation for financial success,” said Nelson. “This is most easily seen in XCOR’s manned flight program. The team has built and flown two generations of manned rocket-powered aircraft, and performed over 50 manned rocket flights without injuring a pilot or passenger, or losing or even damaging a vehicle in flight. That’s an enviable record in this industry.”

“Several hundred thousand people saw XCOR’s safe and reliable operations in action this August at the Experimental Aircraft Association’s AirVenture exhibition,” he added. “Colonel Rick Searfoss, a former USAF Test Pilot and three-time Space Shuttle Pilot and Commander, flew the second generation rocket-powered vehicle three times before large crowds.”

“The spectators not only got a good show, they witnessed the result of the meticulous safety-focused planning and contingency analysis that go into every XCOR operation. This approach is being followed in the quest to build and operate our third generation XCOR craft, the Lynx, which will safely take people up to the edge of space and back up to four times a day.”

XCOR’s Safety Record is Attracting Clients and Investors

“Our track record of technological achievement explains why XCOR has investors ranging from sophisticated individuals such as Esther Dyson, to cautious institutional investors, such as Desert Sky Holdings,” Nelson said. “It is also the reason why our clients include many technologically demanding and safety-conscious organizations, including private clients, the Department of Defense, DARPA, NRO, NASA, and the United States Air Force.”

Nelson said that while he enjoyed working for major Wall Street firms, he is excited to join an entrepreneurial enterprise that not only promises to play a major role in the space flight market, it also provides all of its employees an opportunity to ride into space.

“In banking, people liked to say, ‘The sky’s the limit for our careers,'” Nelson said. “With XCOR, we’re aiming even higher than that.”

XCOR Aerospace is a California corporation located in Mojave, California. The company is in the business of developing and producing safe, reliable and reusable rocket engines, rocket propulsion systems, and rocket powered vehicles.

Source: XCOR Aerospace

CONTACT: Doug Graham of XCOR Aerospace, +1-661-824-4714, ext., 138, Cell, +1-661-742-7514, Fax, +1-661-824-0866,

SpaceRef staff editor.