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Merri Sanchez

Merri Sanchez

NIAC External Council

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Dr. Merri J. Sanchez currently serves as Technical Fellow and advisor to the senior leadership of The Aerospace Corporation on matters concerning military, intelligence community, and civil space.  She has more than 40 years of space engineering, management, national-level policy, and financial experience across government, industry, and academia.  Prior to Aerospace Dr. Sanchez served as Chief Science and Technical Advisor (Chief Scientist), Headquarters Air Force Space Command.  As principal adviser to the commander on all scientific and technical (S&T) matters, she was the authority for all S&T concerning space enterprise vision, launch, ground systems, cyberspace, and multi-domain cross-cutting areas.  She drove space and cybersecurity S&T investments, evaluated technical needs, solutions, architectures, and programs and advised on shaping command programs to ensure the infusion of S&T provided the best possible solutions. 

Dr. Sanchez served 28 years as a senior executive, manager and engineer at NASA working the International Space Station (ISS), Space Shuttle, and X-38 Crew Return Vehicle.  She was also the NASA Liaison to the commanders of the Air Force Space Command, Strategic Command, Northern Command and North American Aerospace Defense Command, and a key strategic advisor to the NASA Administrator on DoD space-related matters.  In industry, she was Senior Director for the Space Systems Group at the Sierra Nevada Corporation in Louisville, Colorado, where she was Program Manager for the Dream Chaser commercial crew spacecraft development. She led development and implementation of a new strategy, organization, business area, and technical team, changing the paradigm for a human spacecraft development. 

Dr. Sanchez is a Fellow in the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics and served over ten years on the AIAA Board of Directors.  She has received numerous national, NASA, Air Force, and AIAA awards and medals, and was inducted into the Colorado Space Hero Hall of Fame.  She is the author of more than 18 publications.