KinetX Aerospace — Providing Visionary, Highly Prized Engineering in Support of Space- and Earth-Based Endeavors



Management Team

The management team at KinetX Aerospace brings a unique perspective, extensive engineering experience, and proven project management skills to every business challenge we face.

Board of Directors

Jack Sears Jr. - Director and Chairman
Christpher Bryan - Director
Durrell Hillis - Director
Robert E. Maskell - Director
Gene Milchak - Director
Kjell Stakkestad - Director
Bobby Williams - Director

Management Team

Kjell Stakkestad - President and Chief Executive Officer
Susan Dater - Chief Financial Officer
Bobby Gene Williams, Ph.D. - Executive Vice President, Space Navigation and Flight Dynamics
Tony Goen - Executive Vice President, Phoenix Operations and Engineering
Craig Cigich - Vice President, Sales
Joe Hoffman - Chief Technical Officer and Facility Security Officer
Kjell Stakkestad - President - Northstar, a wholly owned subsidiary of KinetX Aerospace

SNAFD Strategic Advisory Council

The SNAFD Strategic Advisory Council (SAC) Group is made up of retired JPL engineers and navigators working as independent contractors for KinetX Aerospace.  SAC members provide advice and support for navigation technical developments and operations at SNAFD.

Jim McDanell Sam Dallas Bill Kirhofer
Pete Antreasian Jordan Ellis Bill Purdy
Peter Breckheimer Don Gray Bill Sjogren
Carl Christensen Gerald Hintz Pam Wolken

Biographical Summaries

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Kjell Stakkestad

Mr. Stakkestad received both his bachelor and master degrees in mathematics from the University of California at Davis, and then accepted a position as a staff orbit analyst at Lockheed Missiles and Space Company (LMSC).  He produced orbit-planning products for an array of operational satellite programs run by the Air Force, NASA, and SDI.

In 1992, Mr. Stakkestad and a small team of engineers developed a prototype satellite ground system using off-the-shelf hardware and software products to demonstrate that a robust satellite ground system could be rapidly, cheaply, and reliably developed.  This prototype was used as the example for the future development of the AFSCN satellite ground systems.  His work on the prototype included implementation of the orbital dynamics portion of the ground system including development of the operational rule base.

In 1993, Mr. Stakkestad left LMSC to help found KinetX Aerospace and serve as its first President and Chief Financial Officer.  As the orbit dynamics lead for the development of the IRIDIUM satellite ground control system, he developed the initial orbital dynamics requirements for the ground system.  He led the orbit trade study that chose the company to implement the requirements, worked as the liaison between the development and operational staffs, and was part of the initial operations team that assembled the IRIDIUM constellation.  Mr. Stakkestad also led a variety of KinetX Aerospace software, hardware, and system engineering projects for the IRIDIUM project.

After leaving the IRIDIUM project, he worked on new business development for KinetX Aerospace and assisted Spectrum Astro in the design of the satellite constellation and ground system architecture for the SBIRS Low project.  He has written a number of papers on effective satellite operations and autonomy for large satellite constellations, a subject with which he is still actively involved.

Susan Dater

Susan Dater is Chief Financial Officer (CFO) of KinetX Aerospace, Inc.  As CFO, Ms. Dater is responsible for all domestic and international finance, accounting, budgetary, contract and human resource activities for the company.  She also oversees all ITAR and regulatory affairs.  She joined KinetX Aerospace in 1996 as an accountant.  After graduating Cum Lade with a Bachelor of Science degree in Accountancy from the W.P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University and passing the CPA exam, she assumed the position of Controller at KinetX Aerospace.  Over the past few years, as more growth and changes occurred inside of KinetX Aerospace, Ms. Dater transitioned the accounting system from an off-the-shelf basic accounting system into a custom, fully integrated government contractor cost accounting system with an on-line timekeeping system.

Interfacing and working with both DCAA auditors and external auditors is part of the continuous efforts to maintain reliable processes and financial information.  Anticipating the changing needs of the company, she secured lines of credit with banks to assist growth and manage cash flow.  Always looking for ways to be efficient and save money, Ms. Dater worked with the BDO tax division to attain research and development tax credits to apply toward past and future tax liabilities.

Her attention to detail, dedication to continuing corporate governance and high ethical standards make her a valuable asset to the management team.

Tony Goen

Mr. Goen received his BSEE from the University of Texas at Austin, and accepted a position at Motorola’s Government Electronics Group in Scottsdale, Arizona in 1978.  He initially worked at the device level in the company’s Integrated Circuits Facility (ICF), and then led various teams in the development of Electronic Security Measures (ESM) systems over the next few years.

In 1988, Mr. Goen was assigned a Design Assurance role, where he managed the division’s centralized pool of mechanical engineers, material specialists, reliability specialists, and component engineers.

In 1990, he was asked to lead a division-level test initiative, and proceeded to standardize and formalize the test approach for space and other high reliability programs.  By its nature, this task required significant Systems Engineering focus, leading to the advancement of Systems Engineering capability at the division.

In 1992, Mr. Goen joined the IRIDIUM team and led the On-Board Processor (OBP) development efforts on the payload.  This seven-computer processing suite encompassed all aspects of subsystem development, from systems engineering and architecture to design to parts/materials selection and management, to integration/test/verification.  This effort resulted in many defining attributes of the IRIDIUM payload, such as the inter-computer communications architecture, the hardware routing algorithm and implementation, and the processor bus and suite of associated custom ASICs.  These ASICs defined the payload behavior for everything from bus control to routing of payload communication packets.

In 1999, Mr. Goen and a small group of individuals founded a development lab within Motorola in Chandler, Arizona focused on the design of cellular infrastructure equipment.  This team executed RF, digital, FPGA, and DSP development efforts for 8 years in support of CDMA, WCDMA, and other air interface technologies.  The team also developed a new WiMAX Customer Premises Equipment (CPE) that facilitated Motorola’s entry into the burgeoning WiMAX market.

In May of 2007, Mr. Goen joined KinetX Aerospace.  Several former Motorolans also joined the KinetX Aerospace hardware team to augment the considerable existing Software and Systems Engineering capabilities.  The primary foci of this team are Wireless Communications and Embedded Computing for product space encompassing Aerospace, Government, and Commercial markets.

Bobby Gene Williams, Ph.D.

Dr. Williams holds B.S. and M.S. degrees in Aerospace Engineering from the University of Texas and a Ph.D. in Aerospace Engineering from the University of Southern California.  He is a member of Sigma Gamma Tau, the national honor society for aerospace engineering.

As an employee of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, he participated in and eventually headed the orbit determination teams at JPL for the Viking missions to Mars, the Pioneer Venus Orbiter mission, and the Earth oceanographic mission TOPEX/Poseidon.  He participated in gravity field determination for both Mars and Venus by analyzing orbiter tracking data and was a member of the Phobos Experiment Team which first determined the mass of the Martian moon, Phobos, from spacecraft tracking data.  Dr. Williams was co-investigator for Venus gravity field determination on NASA’s Pioneer Venus Data Analysis and Guest Investigator Program.  He was appointed lead of ground based low thrust navigation development for NASA’s Deep Space 1.  He has supported navigation trade studies and design for many Discovery proposals and was the navigation lead for all three successful Discovery proposals from the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory.  He was navigation team chief throughout development and flight operations of NASA’s Near Earth Asteroid Rendezvous (NEAR) mission which was the first mission to orbit and land on an asteroid.

Dr. Williams has received several prestigious honors and awards including: the NASA Outstanding Leadership Medal for leading the NEAR navigation team; the 2001 Aerospace Laureate for Space from Aviation Week & Space Technology for his work as the NEAR mission navigation team leader; the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum Trophy as a member of the NEAR mission team; his nomination to the American Astronautical Society Space Flight Mechanics Committee; and his nomination to the American Institute of Aeronautics & Astronautics National Technical Committee on Astrodynamics for which he subsequently served as secretary.  In honor of his efforts for NEAR, asteroid 1990 OK1 was renamed (5642) Bobbywilliams by the International Astronomical Union.

Dr. Williams is author or co-author on over seventy technical papers, including twenty-four refereed articles and over thirty-six conference papers.  He holds current memberships in the American Institute of Aeronautics & Astronautics, the Americal Geophysical Union, and the American Astronautical Society.

He founded and is now the Director of Space Navigation and Flight Dynamics for KinetX Aerospace, the first privately held company to supply critical navigation support for NASA deep space missions; the first two being the New Horizons mission to Pluto and Charon and the MESSENGER mission to Mercury.

Craig Cigich

Mr. Cigich received a bachelor of science in electrical engineering technology (BSEET) from the DeVry Institute of Technology, Columbus Ohio in 1984.  He subsequently received an MBA from the University of Phoenix in 1993.

Upon graduating with his bachelor degree, Mr. Cigich accepted a position at the Rockwell International facility in Anaheim, California to support the design and development of Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) guidance systems.  After supporting multiple efforts in the ICBM design and development field, Mr. Cigich pursued opportunities in space based and terrestrial communication programs.  He has worked on satellite and terrestrial communication systems since 1993, primarily in the area of ground systems network management infrastructure design and development.

Mr. Cigich was President/CEO of a consulting company (CMCS LLC) started in 1996 to provide network management engineering consulting services to telecommunication companies developing both terrestrial and space based communication systems.  He grew the company to over 20 contractors supporting multiple telecommunication programs in 4 years.  Mr. Cigich engineered and managed the design and development of a fault management system for the IRIDIUM communication system.  In addition, he has provided engineering and management for systems engineering and development efforts of both commercial (e.g., AT&T wireless) and DoD (e.g., MUOS) terrestrial and satellite communications systems.

Mr. Cigich joined KinetX Aerospace in July 2007 to utilize his vast systems knowledge and broad skill range cultivated over many years of supporting multiple customers and projects to help guide KinetX Aerospace on a sustainable growth path across the systems engineering, HW/SW development, and operations disciplines.  He currently supports many facets of operations and business development.  Mr. Cigich was instrumental in steering KinetX Aerospace into the UAV business with the successful contract win of providing a data recorder for the BAMS UAV.  Mr. Cigich defined the target markets and roadmap for KinetX Aerospace to obtain quality (CMMI, ISO, AS) standards to enable the company to broaden from just a services organization to deliverable/product based.

Jack Sears Jr.

Jack Sears, Jr. is an Aerospace and Defense executive with over 25 years experience in military, federal service, and industry leadership, management, and execution roles.  Mr. Sears currently serves as Deloitte Services’ Strategic Client Relationship Executive for Strategic Federal and Aerospace and Defense clients in California, Arizona, and Nevada.

Before joining Deloitte in 2011, Mr. Sears was the Sector Vice President and General Manager for the Information Technology and Communications Sector of Epsilon Systems Solutions, Inc, where his organization was responsible for delivering professional services, engineering, and technical solutions to Department of Defense (DoD) customers.

From 1998 to 2002, Mr. Sears held the position of Program Manager for the Common High-Bandwidth Data Link-Surface Terminal (CHBDL-ST) and Common Data Link (CDL) programs while a member of the Federal Service at the Space and Naval Warfare (SPAWAR) Systems Center in San Diego.  Mr. Sears was a Project Manager and Subject Matter Expert in the Link 16 Program at SPAWAR Systems Center San Diego from 1994 to 1998, and a member of the U.S. Navy from 1988 to 1994.

Mr. Sears is a recognized expert in the fields of federal contracting, Foreign Military Sales, and Advanced Tactical Data Link Systems, and holds a BS in Business Management from San Diego Christian College and an MBA in Finance from the University of Redlands.

Durrell Hillis

Durrell retired in 1999 as Senior Vice President and Group General Manager of Motorola’s Defense and Space businesses responsible for research, design, development and production of advanced communications and electronic systems for domestic and international commercial users, NASA, and DOD.

Prior to a career in defense and space, Durrell held positions in engineering, marketing and product management in Motorola’s semiconductor business. Durrell created and led the Motorola Satellite Communications organization which successfully developed and produced the Iridium System—the world’s first and only satellite based global communications network, starting with 20 people and growing to 2,000 Motorola employees and 6,000 contract personnel for the $5 Billion program.

After his retirement from Motorola, From 2001-2006, Durrell was Board Chairman of the Insyte Corporation in St. Petersburg, Fl., a specialized electronics company which provided advanced technology to DOD and the Intelligence Community.  He led the small company from $1m to $27M in sales, resulting in its acquisition by ITT Corporation in 2006.

In 1997 Durrell was elected to the U.S. Space Foundation’s Space Technology Hall of Fame and in 1998 was elected to the Arizona State University’s College of Business Hall of Fame.  Durrell received a BSEE from the University of Arizona, an MSEE and an MBA from Arizona State University and completed the Motorola Executive Institute.  He was awarded two patents in semiconductor memory design and one in cellular communications.  He was a Senior member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), an Associate Fellow of the American Institute of Aerospace and Astronautics (AIAA), a member of the Executive Council for the International Engineering Consortium (IEC), and a member of the Advisory Board of the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO).

Community activities have included membership in the Greater Phoenix Leadership organization, the Valley of the Sun United Way Campaign Cabinet, the Board of Governors of the Boys and Girls Clubs of Scottsdale, the Executive Committee of the ASU Engineering Deans’ Advisory Council, and the University of Arizona Engineering Advisory Council.  He also served as a member of the Board of Samaritan Health Services and as Chairman of the Phoenix Urban League and the Scottsdale Christian Academy.

Robert E. Maskell

Robert E. (Bob) Maskell is the founder and CEO of Plan B Space Systems Consulting LLC and NorthStar Satellite Services, Inc.  Plan B Space Systems Consulting LLC works with public and private sector leaders to evolve space systems through the innovative use of commercial products.  NorthStar Satellite Services, Inc. is the U.S. sales and marketing partner of NorStar Space Data, Inc. for products and services produced by the NorthStar system.  The company is also the lead for developing the NorthStar space segment.

Bob’s 30 years of space systems experience includes 20 years of active duty as a Commissioned Officer in the U.S. Navy with 10 years of sea duty in various operational assignments including command of USS CONOLLY (DD 979) during Operation Desert Storm and 8 years of staff assignments ashore focused on MILSATCOM systems, with key roles in the MILSTAR, FLTSATCOM EHF, and UHF Follow-On programs.

After retiring from the Navy in 1993, he started a consulting business that was retained by the Navy to manage the Interim Polar EHF SATCOM Project.  At the successful conclusion of that contract, he accepted the position of Program Manager, MILSATCOM at Spectrum Astro in Gilbert, Arizona. In that capacity, he managed the Mobile User Objective System (MUOS) concept development and the Transformational Communications System (TCS) concept development programs.

He moved to Cisco Systems, Inc. in 2003 where he authored the Internet Routing In Space (IRIS) concept.  He retired from Cisco in 2009 and started Plan B Space Systems Consulting LLC.  In 2011, he founded NorthStar Satellite Services, Inc. to provide program management, business development and marketing services as a partner in the NorthStar project.

Bob earned a Bachelor of Science in Ocean Engineering from the US Naval Academy and a Master of Science in Electrical Engineering from the Naval Postgraduate School.

Gene Milchak

Gene Milchak began his NASA career in 1972 as a ground station operator contractor to NASA with RCA Service Company on the Orbiting Astronomical Observatory (OAO) at Goddard Space Flight Center, MD.

He was then employed in 1977 by Grumman Aerospace as a Mission Controller on the OAO and SMM missions.

Gene then relocated to White Sands, NM with General Dynamics in 1981 when he joined General Dynamics Contel (formerly Spacecom, Inc.) serving in a variety of positions including manager of Mission Planning and director of Ground Systems.

Gene left Contel in 1989 and joined Omitron, Inc. of Greenbelt MD as vice president of Operations and was made a part owner.

Gene sold his share of Omitron in 1997 and joined SGT, Inc. as director of Mission Operations.

In 1998, he rejoined GTE Government Systems as senior manager, Program/Proposal, until 2000, when he joined the former General Dynamics Network Systems (GDNS) as director, Space Programs.

In March of 2004, Gene joined GDC4 Systems when GDNS’ Space Programs was transferred into C4 Systems.  He served as director, Space Programs, and senior director of SGS&O. Gene was named a C4 Systems vice president in May 2012.  Under his direction, the business grew significantly and included the following primary locations: Las Cruces, NM; NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, MD; Wahiawa, HI, and the Naval Satellite Operations Center, Pt. Mugu, CA. Gene was instrumental in winning NASA’s Space Network Ground Segment Sustainment (SGSS) program. GD has several future opportunities with NASA, Navy, Air Force and other agencies which are viable because of the SGSS foothold, which was made possible through Gene’s personal reputation and visibility within this tight customer and industry community.

In his more than 41 years in the aerospace industry, Gene has received multiple NASA Group Achievement Awards, which are presented for outstanding group accomplishments that contribute substantially to NASA's mission.  He also was one of the first 30 NASA contractor personnel to be selected for the NASA Manned Flight Awareness Award.

An Air Force veteran who served as a communications officer at the VIP Aeronautical Station at Andrews Air Force Base, Gene received his Bachelor of Science degree in Aerospace Engineering and his Master of Science in Systems Management, both from the University of Maryland.

Christopher Bryan

Christopher G. Bryan began his career in 1982 with Lockheed Corporation supporting the Air Force Satellite Control Network (AFSCN) Space Test Program.  While at Lockheed, he held lead positions as a Planner/Analyst, Mission Controller, and Orbit Analyst, including Lead Orbit Analyst for the Strategic Defense Initiative's successful Relay Mirror Experiment (RME).

In 1993 he left Lockheed to help found KinetX.  Since then, he has worked on many key projects for KinetX including Iridium, the SBIRS Low missile defense simulation, and MUOS, earning several individual and group achievement awards.  Chris currently works in KinetX's Space Navigation and Flight Dynamics group, and is the Navigation Team Chief for the MESSENGER spacecraft which is currently in orbit around the planet Mercury.  While at KinetX, Chris has held many senior management positions including Contracts Manager, Export Control Officer, CFO, Chairman, and President.  Chris has served as a Director of KinetX for over 20 years and is a member of the National Association of Corporate Directors.

Chris has a B.S. in Physics from the State University of New York at Stony Brook and an M.S. in Computational Physics with emphasis in Astrodynamics from San Jose State University.

Joe Hoffman

Coming soon.






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