Dr. Steven Walker, Director, Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency

Dr. Steven Walker

Director, Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency

Steven H. Walker earned an undergraduate degree in aerospace engineering at the University of Notre Dame. He received a Master of Science in mechanical engineering from the University of Dayton and returned to Notre Dame where he earned a Ph.D. in aerospace engineering.

He has more than 30 years’ experience in civil service. He began his engineering career in the Air Force Research Laboratory’s Air Vehicles Directorate. Subsequently, he was Program Manager of the University Aeronautics and Hypersonics Research Program at the Air Force Office of Scientific Research, and special assistant to the Director, Defense Research and Engineering at the Pentagon.

He was Program Manager at the Tactical Technology Office at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). He initiated the $500 million DARPA/Air Force Falcon program to develop and flight test technologies for long-duration hypersonic flight and affordable, responsible space lift. He later became the TTO Deputy Director.

Dr. Walker served as a member of the Senior Executive Service, as Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Science, Technology, and Engineering Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Acquisition in Washington, D.C. In November 2017 he was appointed Director of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).

In the News…

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has awarded $14 million to Grypton Technologies to support their Demonstration Rocket for Agile Cislunar Operations (DRACO) program, whose main goal is to demonstrate a nuclear thermal propulsion (NTP) system in Earth orbit.

NTPO systems use fusion reactors to heat propellants such as hydrogen to extreme temperatures, then eject the gas through nozzles to create thrust. This technology boasts a thrust-to-weight ratio about 10,000 times higher than that of electric propulsion systems and a specific impulse, or propellant efficiency, two to five times that of traditional chemical rockets.

Such improvements in propulsion technology are needed for “maintaining space domain awareness in cislunar space—the volume of space between the Earth and the moon,” a description of the DRACO program says.

With their newly awarded $14 million, Grypton will work to make this vision a reality.


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