Karman Fellow 2021
CEO and Co-Founder
Vanessa Clark is Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer at Atomos Space. She is an experienced aerospace engineer with expertise ranging from advanced concepts to hardware development and production, with emphasis on in-space propulsion and space nuclear power systems.
After obtaining an advanced physics/mathematics undergraduate and graduate degrees in aerospace engineering and management in Australia, Vanessa worked as a research engineer in Germany from 2011 to 2015 for Airbus Defense and Space (formerly Astrium) and DLR (the German Aerospace Centre) in the fields of spacecraft systems engineering, spacecraft and rocket propulsion, and space mission design, including for the nuclear-electric spacecraft program, MEGAHIT. Relocating to the U.S. in 2015 after receiving a Green Card, Vanessa took on a role as principal propulsion engineer and manager at Lockheed Martin in Colorado. Engaged in projects ranging from military satellites to human spaceflight, she led the design, testing, and production of spacecraft propulsion systems for NASA and other government customers. In this role, she was able to recover late and over budget programs, modify requirements and processes to reduce the burden of government inspections program-wide, and was selected to participate in Lockheed Martin’s Next Gen leadership program. Vanessa co-founded Atomos with the goal to remove the barriers to accessing space that she experienced in her roles both as a launch vehicle designer and spacecraft developer and operator. In particular, she is passionate about promoting sustainable space utilization and realizing next-generation space power and propulsion technologies that will enable humans to access space beyond Earth orbit.