Get Updates


Rocket City Space Pioneers

About Us

The Rocket City Space Pioneers team is made up of Dynetics (team leader), Teledyne Brown Engineering, Andrews Space, Spaceflight Services, Draper Laboratory, Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne, Moog, the University of Alabama Huntsville, and the Von Braun Center for Science & Innovation (VCSI), world-class companies and organizations with a presence in Huntsville, Alabama. The team is uniquely positioned with a blend of in-depth spacecraft, propulsion systems, and launch integration expertise combined with experience in the commercial spaceflight market.

Team leader Dynetics has brought together a well-seasoned team of professionals who have worked together on multiple innovative spacecraft and propulsion programs performed on tight budgets with short delivery schedules. The team exemplifies the type of lean, innovative working relationship that is critical to the success of a program such as the Google Lunar XPRIZE.

The Rocket City Space Pioneers are developing a low-cost lunar lander/rover system for conducting commercial and scientific missions on the Moon and potentially other planetary bodies. The lander/rover system is capable of making a soft landing on a planetary body and deploying a rover.

The Rocket City Space Pioneers is a team of Alabama businesses and organizations formed to prove that robotic space exploration can be an affordable and sustainable commercial endeavor.

Our minimal risk approach utilizes our team members’ experience in flight proven heritage hardware and our integrated Falcon 9 rideshare system. In an effort to share the burden of robotic space exploration architecture development, we strive to maintain a diversified portfolio of team members.

We began with the development of a proof-of-concept system architecture utilizing commercial, private, and government funding to validate our technical and business approach, ultimately becoming self-sustaining as a viable space exploration enterprise. These investments come in the form of prizes, contracts, team members, and sponsorships, and through private investments.

Once we succeed in accomplishing this initial “proof of concept” phase, defined by winning the Google Lunar XPRIZE competition, we will move into an operational business phase that routinely demonstrates the merits of our approach though business sustainability and mission affordability.

The Rocket City Space Pioneers’ rideshare arrangement is brokered by our team member, Spaceflight Services. The Falcon 9 will place several metric tons of payload into a Geosynchronous Transfer Orbit (GTO) comprised of a primary payload and an ESPA-based propulsion module with multiple rideshare payloads.

Once in GTO, the primary payload will be deployed along with three secondary payloads. The propulsion module and the remaining three payloads will then separate from the Falcon 9 second stage and will perform a Trans Lunar Injection burn. At the Moon, the propulsion module will make a Lunar Orbit Insertion burn to place it and its payloads in Low Lunar Orbit (LLO).

Once in LLO, the propulsion module will deploy the remaining three payloads, including the Rocket City lander. The lander/rover, when jettisoned from the propulsion module, will conduct a braking maneuver to land softly on the lunar surface. Once on the lunar surface, the lander will deploy a small rover which will be tethered to the primary lander. The rover is capable of driving at least one kilometer once it has reached the lunar surface.



Team Lead: Tim Pickens

Tim Pickens, chief propulsion engineer for Dynetics, has 15+ years of experience in the aerospace industry, specializing in the design, fabrication, and testing of propulsion hardware systems. He was founder and CEO of Orion Propulsion, a propulsion engineer at Plasma Processes Inc. and Space America Inc., and lead propulsion designer at Scaled Composites for SpaceShipOne.

Spacecraft Integration: Mike Graves

Mike Graves is Dynetics' department manager of Space Vehicles with more than 18 years of experience in space vehicle mechanical design, software development and testing, fabrication, ground operations, and all ground support equipment. He is the lead project manager for the Fast Affordable Science & Technology Satellite Huntsville (FASTSAT-HSV01) for the DoD Space Test Program developed in collaboration with NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center and the Von Braun Center for Science and Innovation (VCSI).

Mission Design/Avionics/Launch Integration: Jason Andrews

Jason Andrews is president and CEO of Andrews Space /Spaceflight with more than 15 years of experience in the integration of aerospace systems, developing advanced space products and technologies, and providing innovative solutions and technical services.

GN&C: Pete Paceley

Pete Paceley is general manager of Draper Laboratory in Huntsville with more than 28 years of experience in the design, development, and certification of commercial and government space systems. This includes launch vehicle and spacecraft GNC and avionics systems, pressurized science and cargo modules for Shuttle, unpressurized cargo pallets for Shuttle and ISS, flight support equipment, and ground support equipment.

Structures and Thermal: Mike Soutullo

Mike Soutullo is aerospace chief engineer for Teledyne Brown Engineering. He has more than 30 years of experience in space systems development. He was the Ares I-X Roll Control chief engineer; director of Cargo Mission; program manager of ISS Payload Integration; deputy program manager of Payload Mission Integration; shuttle manager of Payload Mission and Spacelab ATLAS 1 and 2, ASTRO-1, USMP; and Solid Rocket Parachute Reinforcement.

Propulsion: Mark Fisher

Mark Fisher is manager of the Dynetics Propulsion Department with more than 20 years of space systems experience, including serving as vice president for Orion Propulsion Inc. and program director at Miltec Corp. At NASA, he served as engineer/manager for the Orbital Space Plane (OSP) Program Integration Office, manager for the SLI Main Engine Projects, engineer for the RS-83 Main Engine Project, manager for the X-34, and lead for Fastrac Engine Systems. He also served as Orion's president and deputy program manager for Bigelow's Sundancer propulsion system.

Mission Operations: Barry King

Barry King is Dynetics' director for Space Test and Operations. He has 28 years of launch operations experience, particularly in the areas of integration, test, and mission operations. His experience includes missile test and range operations at Reagan Test Site, Cape Canaveral AFS, Vandenberg AFB, and Kodiak Launch Complex. He has been involved in more than 200 launches for NASA, DoD, and commercial missions. He is a former range operations supervisor on DoD Shuttle and Boeing launch director for the Ground-Based Interceptor.

Science Package and Student Engagement: John Gregory

John Gregory is director of the Alabama Space Grant Consortium and Alabama NASA EPSCoR Programs at UAHuntsville, managing 14 programs with “Students Building Spaceflight Hardware” in which students assume responsibility for execution of the entire project, with mentoring from expert professionals.

Propulsion:  Cy Bruno

Cy Bruno is Attitude Control Propulsion Systems program manager at Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne. He has more than 30 years of experience developing, qualifying, and producing storable propellant propulsion systems including Ares I-X Roll Control System and Peacekeeper Missile System Stage IV. He also is responsible for developing crossover applications of high performance DoD propulsion systems for deep space applications.

Payload Launch Adapter Systems:  Joe Maly

Joe Malyis associate principal engineer for Moog CSA Engineering. He was principal investigator for the development of ESPA, and he has managed flight programs at CSA such as the Hubble Space Telescope Solar Array 3 Dampers and the ESPA Ring for NASA's LRO/LCROSS Mission. He recently led a team at CSA to develop the Tuned Oscillator Array (TOA), a system of five 800-lb tuned mass absorbers for the Ares I launch vehicle. He is currently working with LoadPath LLC and the AFRL Space Vehicles Directorate to develop a cubesat adaptor for small launch vehicles.

Team Members

  1. Tim Pickens
  2. Tom Baumbach
  3. Mike Graves
  1. Janet Felts
  2. Anthony Brinkley
  3. Lenny Paritsky
  1. Mike Soutullo
  2. Charles Tullock
  3. David Hewitt
  1. Steve Cook
  2. Ray McCormick
Team Leader:
Tim Pickens
United States

Become a Part of the Future! Sign Up for Our Newsletter: