MOJAVE -- 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, Calif. 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
"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.
"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."
"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.
Nelson said that while he enjoyed working for major Wall Street firms, he is excited to join an erepreneurial 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."